This article contains SPOILERS for Black Panther.
We’re used to seeing plenty of Easter Eggs liberally sprinkled throughout Marvel movies but on the face of it, there didn’t seem to be many in Black Panther. However, look closely at their latest offering about the Wakandan superhero, and you’ll find several details and references drawing from the comics and wider pop culture — as well as subtle nods to real-life events. We’ve rounded up the best spots.
There are a handful of James Bond parallels in Black Panther. Not only in the espionage thriller aspect of the plotting, but also in the casino setting in Busan. Plenty of Bond action has seen the inside of an opulent casino: lavish gambling dens are synonymous with 007.
But perhaps the most obvious homage paid is in Shuri’s similarity to Q and the entire sequence when T’Challa’s tech genius sister is showcasing her new gadgets to her brother. Firstly, we’re entering the innards of a mountain via a crater where Shuri’s lab is located — there are hints of SPECTRE’s volcano lair from You Only Live Twice about this. And then Shuri proceeds to demonstrate her new inventions to T’Challa one by one. There’s also plenty of humour here which would be at home in one of the Bond sequences it imitates.
Back to the Future
When Shuri is showing a new type of footwear to T’Challa during her gadget demo, she says they’re fully automated, “just like the ones in that American movie Baba used to watch.” This is a direct reference to Marty McFly’s futuristic Nike hi-tops seen in Back to the Future II.
Black Panther Party
Parts of the film are set in Oakland, California in 1992. Oakland is the birthplace of the Black Panther movement which began in 1966 and sought to address issues of inequality. The theme is of huge significance in Black Panther.
Panther Goddess Bast
During T’Chaka’s opening speech to his young son T’Challa, he explains the origins of Wakanda, voiceover flashback-style. He refers the Panther Goddess Bast, who is worshipped by Wakandans. According to comic lore, Bast has been worshipped since 10,000 BC by the area’s primitive tribes.
T’Chaka describes the moment a huge meteorite made of Vibranium crashed to the earth and landed in Wakanda.
It was Bast who helped create the first Black Panther after leading a warrior shaman from one of Wakanda’s five warring tribes to the heart-shaped herb – a plant affected by the properties of Vibranium. It bestowed on him superhuman capabilities. “The warrior became king and the first Black Panther,” says T’Chaka. The giant panther statue that has featured prominently in the film marketing and that also serves as a grand entrance to Wakanda is a likeness of Bast.
This king, the first Black Panther, referred to by T’Chaka in his speech, is likely to be the Bashenga in the comics. Although T’Chaka does not name him, his name does crop up later — the Shuri-run Wakanda Design Group is located inside Mount Bashenga.
Man-Ape and Ghekre
The leader of the Jabari tribe, M’Baku is referred to as ‘Gorilla’ at one point — a nod to his comic book status as Man Ape. ‘Gorilla’ references the White Gorilla Cult, an underground group whose help M’Baku sought in the comics to help him seize the throne. They worshipped Ghekre the Gorilla God — hence the name. The story in the comics goes that M’Baku re-establishes the outlawed White Gorilla Cult, killing and eating a rare white gorilla which gives him the strength of the species.
One funny moment in the film comes when M’Baku tells Martin Freeman’s Everett Ross to stop speaking lest he feed him to his men. He laughs and it’s apparent he’s joking when he reveals they’re all vegetarian. M’Baku’s clothes also incorporate elements of his comic-book Man Ape costume.
During the final battle, T’Challa faces off against W’Kabi’s herd of war rhinos. This recalls the Black Panther comic mini-series of 1988 in which T’Challa fights a rhino during the opening panels of the first comic.
Stan Lee Cameo
The Marvel honcho appears in his usual cameo role, as a man at the casino table in Busan. He swipes Everett Ross’s chips while he’s otherwise engaged. “I think I’ll just take these; bring them over here and hold onto them for safekeeping,” he says.
During the second post-credits sequence, we see Bucky Barnes — aka the Winter Soldier — emerge from a tent in Wakanda, attended to by Shuri. Three children are interfering. They refer to Bucky as the White Wolf. In the comics, the White Wolf is a character who was adopted by King T’Chaka — T’Challa’s father — when his parents were killed in a plane crash. The White Wolf, also known as Hunter, was jealous of his adoptive brother because he knew he wouldn’t be the one to take the throne.
1401 is the number on the door of the apartment that young Erik Killmonger lived in with his uncle in Oakland. It’s also the number of the suite occupied by Timely Publications — the original name of Marvel Publishing — in the Empire State Building after they moved there, following their growing success.
Black Panther is on wide release in the UK from February 13 and hits US screens on February 16.