Black Panther may not be officially announced like Captain America 3 or Guardians of the Galaxy 2, but it’s clear that Marvel Studios has something planned for him. He’s too good of a character to pass over, and everyone from Kevin Feige to Stan Lee has expressed admiration of the character. The only thing that’s been debated more than whether the film will actually get made is who will play T’Challa. Well, one actor certainly would have made a good candidate in the past: Denzel Washington.
In a recent Reddit AMA, Washington was asked whether he’s ever consider playing a Marvel or DC superhero.
Didn’t they do the Green Lantern? With Ryan Reynolds! Too late! Green Lantern Returns? Isn’t there a comic book, the Black Panther or something?
During an interview about his new film The Equalizer, Cinema Blend asked whether Marvel has ever approached him for a role, to which he said, “Nope.” When they asked if it was something he would be interested in, this was his response:
I’m probably getting too old. They didn’t make the Black Panther yet, though, did they? I heard that they have been talking about it. That’s cool.
Although Washington is a superb actor, he’s probably right. If (or more properly “when”) they cast someone as Black Panther, they’ll likely cast a younger actor rather than someone approaching 60. However, there is a Black Panther role that he would be excellent for. I realize that this is not an original idea, but it bears repeating nonetheless: Washington would make a great T’Chaka, T’Challa’s father. Like his son, T’Chaka was the king of Wakanda and also ate the herb that gave him the powers of the Black Panther. However, he was murdered by Ulysses Klaw after he refused to open Wakanda’s borders for trading.
Playing T’Chaka would give Washington the opportunity to contribute to the Marvel Cinematic Universe without devoting too much time to it. Like Stanley Tucci in Captain America: The First Avenger, his role would be relatively small, but still important to the story. In the comics, T’Chaka’s brother S’Yan inherits the throne after his death, but vacates once T’Challa is old enough. After completing the necessary trials, T’Challa becomes the Black Panther and seeks revenge against the man who killed his father. So although he may not have much screen time, Washington’s role would be an important catalyst to the story.
Of course, T’Chaka isn’t only useful for T’Challa’s origin. If Black Panther decides to take a route similar to Ant-Man, Washington could return for a flashback scene where T’Chaka meets with several iconic MCU characters. Maybe Howard Stark tries to obtain more vibranium years after World War II, and T’Chaka tells him to get lost. Or, despite Wakanda being an isolationist country, perhaps T’Chaka was instrumental in the formation of S.H.I.E.LD.
Marvel has done a fine job of recruiting older, high-caliber actors, from Anthony Hopkins to Glenn Close to Robert Redford. He may to be able to play a hero, but there’s still room for Denzel Washington to play an important role in the MCU. So go ahead, Marvel! Officially announce Black Panther so that you can bring him aboard!