Though it hasn't yet been officially announced by Marvel Studios as an upcoming release, both studio head Kevin Feige and Merry Marvel Mirthmaster Stan Lee have told us more than once that a Black Panther film is definitely happening eventually. When it finally happens (hopefully sooner rather than later), it'll be a milestone for Marvel, marking the first time their first black superhero has hit the big screen, and the man who gets to fill the shoes of the title character will not just be a movie star, but an icon to fans.
Because we know the film's coming, even though we don't know when, the nerdier corners of the Internet have been buzzing with potential casting choices for ages, and since talk of the film has recently heated up again thanks to Lee's mention of it earlier this month, we thought it would be a good time to have a bit of fun and throw a few names into the mix ourselves.
In putting this selection of candidates together, we made a number of considerations. The man who plays T'Challa must look like a superhero, yes, but he also must have the bearing of a king, the ability to portray one of the smartest people in the Marvel Universe and a kind of mystical quality that reminds us of the character's connection to Wakanda's Panther God. We looked for men we think could pull that off, but we also looked at a few other things. For one thing, while we can see a young actor working for a T'Challa origin story, we didn't want anyone who might be too old to keep up with the multi-picture Marvel grind, so the oldest actor here is 45 (apologies to fans of Wesley Snipes and Michael Jai White, but hey, you might still have a shot). We also wanted actors who could naturally emphasize the Wakandan aspect of the character, so you'll find several African natives and sons of African natives in the mix. And finally, though we certainly agree Djimon Hounsou and Idris Elba are brilliant, we decided we wouldn't list any actors who've appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before, no matter how small or finite their role was.
Check out our choices in the gallery below, and please remember that this is meant to be a list, not the list, so tell us who your dream Black Panther is in the comments.