Which of these 9 men should be the Black Panther?

Contributed by
Dec 14, 2012

With the recent announcement that Marvel's hired a screenwriter to get this long-gestating project back on track, we began to think about who could rule over Wakanda. Denzel Washington is too old, Djimon Hounsou's getting up there, and Wesley Snipes might still be incarcerated—who's left?

WILL SMITH

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Best known for: Independence Day, Men in Black, I Am Legend

In all truth, it's probably too small a role for Smith—the biggest movie star in the world—and the traditionally budget-minded Marvel can't afford him. But he also gets mentioned for every male role that comes down the pike, so to not even bring him up would be silly. Still, it'll never happen.


IDRIS ELBA

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Best known for: The Wire, The Losers, Luther, Thor

Elba brings a simmering, almost physical intelligence to every role he plays—even Michael Scott's temporary replacement on The Office—that would be perfect for T'Challa.


CHIWETEL EJIOFOR

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Best known for: Serenity, 2012, Children of Men

Put simply, Ejiofor would be awesome—he's one of the few actors who can stand up to Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie on screen and can effortlessly swing from sci-fi to Shakespeare.


ADEWALE AKINNUOYE-AGBAJE

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Best known for: Lost, Oz, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

This Nigeria-born actor has been campaigning for the role ever since the rights reverted back to Marvel a couple of years ago. As he told Cinematical in 2009: "I'd like to convey an element of him that is real and raw. ... I can make this guy real. ... I would bring some elements from my culture, which is Nigeria. I'm from an area which is known for its regality. In fact, my name, Adewale, means 'the crown has come home, the crown is here.' I would love to bring out the cultural elements of my background to it."


MAHERSHALALHASHBAZ ALI

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Best known for: The 4400, Predators, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Kind of a dark-horse pick, but he was the heart and soul of the late, lamented, way-better-than-Heroes superhero drama The 4400. No reason he couldn't bring the same pathos to the technologically advanced jungle.


TAYE DIGGS

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Best known for: Day Break, Equilibrium, Private Practice

For reasons that pass understanding, Diggs has never quite made it as a movie actor—he's got the talent and the looks; no one's quite sure where it went wrong—so he could be hungry enough to fight for this with teeth bared.


ALDIS HODGE

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Best known for: Leverage, Friday Night Lights

An unlikely choice, perhaps, in that he's now known for the light heisty charms he displays as a hacker supreme on Leverage. But he can rock the drama—as well as the accent—needed to pull it off.


MICHAEL JAI WHITE

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Best known for: The Dark Knight, Spawn, Black Dynamite

No one else on the list has action chops like this dude, who holds seven black belts. And if Christopher Nolan and Quentin Tarantino think he's good enough for their flicks—even if his fight scene was cut from Kill Bill, Vol. 2—then he's good enough for Black Panther.


ANTHONY MACKIE

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Best known for: The Hurt Locker, Eagle Eye, Notorious

Mackie's role as the battle-tested voice of reason in Kathryn Bigelow's Oscar-winning Gulf War bomb-specialist drama The Hurt Locker catapulted him to the top of a lot of short lists. No reason why he shouldn't be on this one, too.

Which one would you pick? Or did you have someone else in mind?