Marvel's Phase Three: 'Doctor Strange,' 'Iron Man 4,' 'Hulk,' 'Inhumans' or 'Runaways' on horizon? -- EXCLUSIVE

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Black Panther

BLACK-PANTHER_320The title isn’t the easiest sell, even though this Marvel Comics character was introduced in 1966, just a few months before the similarly named militant group was founded.

But the world’s first black superhero has a core legion of fans who have been eager to see him on the big screen, and getting over any name confusion would be a fairly simple marketing problem to solve — if the resources were devoted to it.

Black Panther is the ceremonial title given to the leader of the fictional African nation of Wakanda, and T’Challa is the man in the mask — a warrior of great strength and intelligence who not only rules his homeland, but must protect it from a perpetual legion of attackers. That’s because it is one of the few places on Earth where the element Vibranium can be found.

Vibranium, you say? It’s one of the rarest and strongest metals imaginable. (And it is totally imagined, by the way.) Captain America’s shield — that’s made out of vibranium.

Wesley Snipes tried to launch a Black Panther film as a starring vehicle for himself in the 1990s, but it never came together. In 2011, Marvel Studios commissioned a script from documentarian Mark Bailey, who has made such socially charged films as Ghosts of Abu Ghraib, and Pandemic: Facing AIDS.

That led to rumors last year that Black Panther would be one of Marvel’s next movies, but then the Phase Two slate was announced and… it wasn’t on there.

Still, rumblings persist.

Recently, actor Morris Chestnut triggered one such temblor on Facebook with this status update: “It’s time to get familiar with the Black Panther character.” Fanboys wondered: Will we see Black Panther in Avengers 2? Or maybe the ABC series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

His Twitter account later dismissed the speculation and said the Facebook post did not originate from Chestnut, but rather was wishful thinking by fans who handle his social-media presence.

If we do end up seeing an adaptation of Black Panther, he could be introduced to general audiences through a supporting role in one of the other movies or the ABC series — just as he was in the comics, debuting in an issue of Fantastic Four.

Marvel just says everything is speculation at this point. Right now, those rumblings you hear are just evidence of the passion for this character — internally as much as from outside.

The real shock would be if Black Panther didn’t make an appearance sooner or later.

NEXT PAGE: Daredevil, The Punisher, Blade, and Ghost Rider

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