From Will Smith to John Boyega, who could play Marvel’s ‘Black Panther’?

Casting any superhero film can be tricky.

After all, you’ve got rabid fans who have deep, meaningful relationship with the characters, and they’ve got strong opinions.  You’ve got the financiers, and especially with international money driving so much of the conversation today, that becomes a very tricky minefield to navigate.  You’ve got studio people who have relationships they have to service, as well as personal history with many of the eligible names.

With the modern era of superhero films, one of the things that I’ve noticed is how tricky it is when race becomes an issue of any sort.  I’m still somewhat rattled by the firestorm of fury that erupted over Michael Clarke Duncan’s casting in “Daredevil” or Idris Elba’s casting in “Thor,” and more than anything, it’s convinced me that we need more race-blind casting in these films, not less.  Yes, I know people get attached to a visual representation of a character, but I also think there is a tendency to get hung up on the least important details about a character.

When I covered the notion of Donald Glover playing Spider-Man, it was eye-opening for me.  Over and over, people kept arguing that Peter Parker has to be white, but they couldn’t offer any concrete reason why that’s true other than “because he always has been.”  I feel like the only time race should be the primary consideration is when a character’s fundamental identity is somehow tied up in their race.  With Peter Parker, that’s just not the case.

With Black Panther, though, it is.

Marvel’s done a nice job of introducing Black Panther and his native country of Wakanda to audiences of the various animated Marvel properties over the last decade, and they’ve certainly made him an active part of the various version of the Avengers that we’ve seen.  Now, with the news that he’s going to get his own film soon, we felt like it was the perfect time to dig into the underutilized ranks of young black actors and find some names who might be ideal to play the part.  We looked at movie stars, rising stars, and near-unknowns, and we’ve come up with a list that is rich with potential and varied in a number of ways.

There’s no guarantee we’ve got the eventual Black Panther on this list, but at least we can kick off the conversation and celebrate some of the guys who deserve a shot at joining the ranks of the Marvel Movie Universe.