'Black Panther' Easter Eggs Reference Marvel History and One Meme
Here's what it all means.
There are even more riches in Wakanda than it seems. Marvel’s Black Panther, the T’Challa superhero film directed by Ryan Coogler, arrives in theaters packed with Easter eggs. While there are only a few breadcrumbs that go back to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the entirety of Black Panther’s comics history is celebrated in the entire two-hour film.
For those looking to fully grasp the entire Black Panther experience, here are all the important Easter eggs and references to know about.
Spoilers for Black Panther ahead.
1. Bast and Bashenga
From the beginning of the movie, the cat-headed Egyptian goddess of warfare, Bast, is referenced in the animated prologue. In the comics, Bast, portrayed as a male god, granted his secret knowledge to Bashenga, who became Wakanda’s first Black Panther. Bashenga is honored in the film with Mount Bashenga, where Shuri keeps her laboratory, Wakanda Design Group, hidden beneath.
2. Oakland, California
The largest city in California’s East Bay plays a pivotal role in Black Panther, being the place where Erik Killmonger grew up and lost his father to King T’Chaka. But Oakland was also where the film’s director, Ryan Coogler, grew up. Oakland is also the birthplace of the Black Panther Party, which formed in 1966, a few months after Stan Lee and Jack Kirby introduced Black Panther in Fantastic Four.
3. Baron Zemo
In a BBC News broadcast that plays in T’Challa’s ship, actor Daniel Brühl makes a small cameo, “reprising” his role of Baron Zemo from 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. The news broadcast functions as exposition regarding the film’s place in the MCU timeline, taking place just several days after the assassination of King T’Chaka.
4. “WHAT ARE THOSE?”
Wakanda may be an isolated country, but it isn’t unaware of the outside world. Shuri (Letita Wright) reminds you she’s a teenager by referencing the aging meme, “WHAT ARE THOSE?” which popped off in 2015.
5. Vibranium soles and Back to the Future II
In the same scene Shuri shows off her new tech for her big brother, Shuri mentions “that old American movie” that her pops, the king, used to love so much. That movie can’t be anything else but Back to the Future II, given that Shuri shows T’Challa self-assembling boots, much like the self-lacing Nikes that Marty McFly wears in the futuristic year of 2015.
Also, those boots Shuri invented come with whisper-quiet vibranium soles, a reference to the Christopher Priest comics where T’Challa had similar footwear that allowed him to land safely from extremely high positions.
6. The Djalia
When T’Challa undergoes the ritual of consulting his predecessors to accept the responsibilities of kingship, T’Challa finds himself in a beautiful plane that resembles the Djalia, the Wakandan ethereal realm. The ethereal realm was introduced by Ta-Nehisi Coates in 2016, in his acclaimed run on Black Panther, which is still ongoing.
7. Nakia: No Malice?
In the film, Nakia (Luptia Nyong’o), a trained spy for the Dora Milaje, is the only person on Earth who can make the stalwart T’Challa’s knees weak. T’Challa loves Nakia, but in the comics, it was the other way around. In the comics, Nakia was obsessed with T’Challa, and even tried to kill his ex Monica Lynne, a jazz singer from Queens, which led to her exile where she adopted the super-villain identity Malice.
8. “Another broken white boy.”
Oh Shuri. When Everett Ross is “hovered” into Shuri’s lab after taking a bullet for Nakia, Shuri excitedly yells that she gets to fix “another broken white boy.” This is a pretty obvious reference to Bucky Barnes, a.k.a. the Winter Soldier, who is being kept in cryo in Wakanda since the post-credits scene of Captain America: Civil War.
9. Killmonger: “I’m just feelin’ it.”
In the museum when Killmonger and Klaue (Andy Serkis) steal a load of vibranium, Killmonger looks over at a horned African mask, remarking that he’s “just feelin’ it.” The mask vaguely resembles a mask he wore in the comics, in issue #38 of Reginald Hudlin’s Black Panther.
10. Killmonger’s victory.
In the Christopher Priest run of Black Panther, Killmonger defeats T’Challa in ritual combat — or rather, Everett Ross yields on T’Challa’s behalf, essentially handing the throne of Wakanda to Killmonger. Also in the comics, Killmonger throws T’Challa over a waterfall, though that happened decades prior in Jungle Action by Don McGregor, during the popular “Panther’s Rage” storyline. The film fused together Killmonger’s ascension with his Bane-style insult.
11. Battle Rhinos!
One of the most awesome moments in Black Panther are when W’Kabi’s rhinos come out like a monstrous horde, all of them decked out in battle armor. But T’Challa takes them out with ease, bulldogging them just like he did in the 1988 Black Panther min-series written by Peter B. Gillis and Denys Cowan.
12. White Wolf
In the post-credits scene, a familiar face returns: It’s Bucky Barnes, better known as the Winter Soldier, with Sebastian Stan making a surprise cameo appearance. He’s doing better since he was put on ice in the post-credits of Civil War, thanks to Shuri and that brilliant brain of hers.
What’s extra special is what the kids call him: White Wolf. In the comics, White Wolf was the nickname for Hunter, T’Challa’s adopted white brother whose parents died in a plane crash over Wakanda. Raised as King T’Chaka’s own, until T’Challa was born and stole all the attention away, Hunter trained to become part of the Wakandan secret police, the Hatut Zeraze. That’s when Hunter became the leader of the Hatut Zeraze, going by the name White Wolf.
Obviously, Bucky isn’t T’Challa’s adopted brother, but he is an outsider who will probably rise up the ranks as a Wakandan man of arms. So to speak.
Marvel’s Black Panther is now in theaters.