‘Black Panther' Family Tree Exposes Complex History of Wakanda

Marvel released a new video on Monday that details the lineage of Black Panther mantle and, by extension, T’Challa’s entire family.

Black Panther tells the story of a new king’s ascension to lead Wakanda. The lineage is pretty clear: The former king T’Chaka died in Captain America: Civil War, so when his son T’Challa returns home in Black Panther, it’s his turn on the throne. While the Marvel Cinematic Universe puts forth a straightforward family history, the family tree in the comics is far more complicated.

Marvel released a new video on Monday that details the lineage of Black Panther mantle and, by extension, T’Challa’s entire family. The informative family tree is a nice history lesson for those interested in learning about the Black Panther mantle since the very first. The family tree has a few more branches in the comics — even in recent generations — offering a history we won’t see in the movies.

The video starts off with the first person to take up the Black Panther: Bashenga. We even get a bit of history about T’Challa’s grandfather Azzuri, who actually fought Hydra during World War II.

T’Chaka’s comic book history includes a first wife named N’Yami who dies giving birth to T’Challa. Sometime later, T’Chaka marries Ramonda and they have Shuri, making T’Challa and Shuri only half-siblings in the comics. But in Black Panther, T’Challa and Shuri have the same mother named Ramonda.

Shuri (Letita Wright) in 'Black Panther.'

Marvel Studios

If Black Panther followed comic book history more closely, T’Challa would have a few more siblings, too. As the video explains, T’Chaka and N’Yami adopted a white boy from a foreign country named Hunter in the comics. Also, in the time between N’Yami’s death and his marriage to Ramonda, T’Chaka had another child named Jakarra with an unknown woman.

Several other characters are referenced in the short video, like T’Chaka’s personal bodyguard and confidant Zuri. Erik Killmonger and M’Baku also get mentions as “would-be usurpers.” Both characters make appearances in Black Panther.

Also mentioned in the family tree are Black Panther allies like W’Kabi and the Dora Milaje. Only six are presented in the video, but Black Panther looks like it will include many more.

Dora Milaje

Many of the most notable differences between comics and film directly relate to T’Challa’s immediate family, perhaps to simplify things for the film universe.

Hunter’s exclusion from the film, for example, would have been an alternative way of exploring what kinds of outsiders Wakanda allows to enter the secretive nation. Besides, a having an extra sibling floating around in the world like Jakarra makes for a popular arc in these kinds of stories.

Just imagine if one of T’Challa’s would-be usurpers in Black Panther was actually his half-brother?

Black Panther will premiere February 16, 2018

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