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It took way too long for movies like Black Panther to get made thanks to Hollywood's reluctance to embrace representation. That means that a lot of incredible Black actors never got their shots to be superheroes. That got us thinking what Black Panther might look like if it were cast with iconic with '80s actors, and well, we decided to do the casting ourselves.
We put a lot of thought into these. While Black Panther was first introduced as a character in Marvel's comics in 1966 and finally got his own title with July 1973's Jungle Action #5, his first self-titled series wasn't until the late '70s and into the '80s when it really took off. Plus, these '80s actors are just too perfect.
Here are our favorite picks from the most popular '80s actors of the time.
T’Challa – Denzel Washington
Most know Denzel from his Oscar-winning role of Alonzo in Training Day. But his gentleness as Dr. Phillip Chandler on St. Elsewhere and his strength as South African Activist Steven K. Biko in Cry Freedom would have made him the perfect casting choice for the Crown Prince of Wakanda.
Killmonger – Laurence Fishburne
In 1988’s School Daze, Fishburne’s Dap was the voice of Black Power on campus. That energy, coupled with the energy he would bring us as the '90s-era "Furious" Styles in Boyz in the Hood, would have made him a Killmonger we all would have rooted for.
King T-Chaka – Sidney Poitier
Classically trained, Bahamian Poitier was in his early 40s in the 1980s, but his stage presence would have made him a truly believable king.
Queen Ramonda – Madge Sinclair
Since her turn as the Queen Mother XXX in Coming to America, I just can’t see her any other way.
Shuri – Holly Robinson-Peete
In the '80s, Robinson-Peete looked so young she was cast as high school undercover Officer Judy Hoffs on 21 Jump Street. Her quick wit and dancer’s background would have made her a fun little sister to Washington’s T’Challa.
Okoye – Grace Jones
A musician, actress, model, and activist, Jones would have dominated as Wakanda’s general and the leader of the Dora Milaje security force.
Nakia – Vanessa Bell Calloway
Calloway stayed working in the '80s, starring in soap operas such as All My Children and Days of Our Lives and as Imani, Eddie Murphy’s shunned love interest in Coming to America, she would have made a beautiful Nakia.
Zuri – James Earl Jones
Can you imagine Jones making Zuri’s speech at the waterfall? Or him narrating the story of T’Challa’s brother? Yep. We can too.
Ulysses Klaue – Dolph Lundgren
The Rocky IV star was the best baddie of the '80s. His menacing presence would have made Klaue a formidable opponent for T’Challa.
Everett K. Ross – Robin Williams
Although known for his comedy, Williams was an incredible dramatic actor and would have brought a Columbo-like presence to Agent Ross.
W’Kabi – Avery Brooks
Most remember Brooks as Capt. Benjamin Sisko from Deep Space Nine, but before that he was A Man Called Hawk in the '80s, a spinoff character from '80s detective show Spencer for Hire with a bright smile and a very big gun. Who better to lead the Border Tribe and secure Wakanda's defenses?
M’Baku – Wesley Snipes
Although Snipes lobbied for the role of Black Panther at one point, if we were going to stick to the 2018 BP script, then Snipes would have been brilliant as the leader of the Jabari tribe. Can you imagine what the fight at the falls would have looked like with him?
N’Djobu – Blair Underwood
Blair Underwood was the smoldering hunk on shows such 21 Jump Street, One Life to Live, and The Cosby Show in the '80s. Like Sterling K. Brown, his understated coolness would have brought a calm energy to Killmonger's dad.
Honorable Mention: Angela Bassett as Storm. Although Storm was not in the movie, Ororo did make an appearance in Reginald Hudlin’s run in the comics, when she was married to T’challa (for a little while anyway), and they reigned over Wakanda together. And since we’re fancasting, why not?