Marvel is learning. After several fits and starts with both Black Widow in The Avengers and Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy, the company has finally gotten proactive with merchandising their diverse characters. Starting with Black Panther in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War.
With Black Panther”s first Marvel Cinematic Universe outing just around the corner, a new comic starring T”Challa written by Ta-Nehisi Coates launching April 6, 2016, and Black Panther”s 50th anniversary this year, the time is now to flood the market with sweet merchandise featuring the Prince of Wakanda.
From the press release:
The licensing program features a wide range of products for kids and adults inspired by both the new Marvel comic book debuting April 6th and Black Panther”s first film appearance in Marvel”s Captain America: Civil War in May. The products will feature standalone representations of the hero, as well as team-oriented sets inspired by the new film.
For consumers looking to wear their fandom, the impressive lineup includes bags from Fast Forward and Global Design Concepts and stylish apparel for men and women from Mad Engine, C-Life, Freeze, and Fifth Sun. Hasbro is debuting a toy line including action figures and role play items, and LEGO will be featuring the character in construction sets. For the first time, collectors will be able to add Black Panther to their Super Hero collections with Marvel Select figures and Marvel Minimates from Diamond Select and Mopeez plush, Dorbz vinyls, and POP! bobbleheads from Funko. The program is rounded out with additional product offerings including wall art from Artissimo and Pyramid, novelties from Monogram, and costumes for kids and adults from Rubies and Party City. Select product is in stores now, with more rolling out at retailers including Walmart, Target, Kohl”s, Walgreen”s, Disney Store, Toys “R” Us, and specialty retailers this Spring and into 2016.
The release was accompanied by photos of several products from the line. Everything from shirts to LEGO to action figures. One of those action figures is…weird. It”s well known that branded toys don”t always accurately reflect the source material. But sometimes they do.
WARNING: POSSIBLE CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR SPOILER BEYOND THIS POINT!
Overlooking the fact that this has Black Panther fighting Hawkeye (RIP Hawkeye), but look at T”Challa”s arms! Black Panther is hulking out. And if that helmet is any indication, he hasn”t even reached his final form. So what”s going on? Heart-Shaped Herb, that”s what.
The source of Black Panther”s power is the Heart-Shaped Herb. Once consumed – if the imbiber survives – the Herb grants superhuman strength, agility, endurance, senses, healing, and reflexes. Only those chosen to become a Black Panther by the Panther God can safely consume the Herb. In most versions of the Marvel Universe, the powers are invisible to the naked eye. However, in the animated Ultimate Avengers 2, T”Challa could partially transform into a panther.
It”s entirely possible the action figure is the plastic representation of Black Panther”s spiritual connection to the Panther God. Or it could be an off-the-wall addition that has nothing to do with Captain America: Civil War and everything to do with selling toys. We”ll find out May 6, 2016!