Djimon Hounsou keen to star in Marvel’s Black Panther movie

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MARVEL has long been saying it intends to make a movie based on its African superhero Black Panther, with president of production Kevin Feige confirming at San Diego Comic-Con that the film would arrive sometime after 2012’s The Avengers.

The studio’s intentions were further signalled in Iron Man 2, released earlier this year. In one scene (see images below), there’s a map of the world that highlights part of Africa, and director Jon Favreau stated on the Blu-ray that this was intended as a reference to Black Panther.

Beninese actor Djimon Hounsou arrive at the pr...
Image via Wikipedia

So who might play the role? Well, Djimon Hounsou (pictured right), who voiced the character in a short-lived animated series earlier this year, now says he hopes to star in the eventual live-action movie.

It’s not the first time Hounsou (Gladiator, Push, Blood Diamond) has been linked with Black Panther.

Director Tim Story had earlier been keen on casting the actor as the Black Panther in one of the Fantastic Four films, although that would have been difficult because of rights issues (Fantastic Four are with Fox and Black Panther is with Marvel).

Hounsou has also been a popular choice with fans, along with Idris Elba, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jimmy Jean Louis and others, while Wesley Snipes has been campaigning to play the Panther since way back in 1992.

Earlier this year, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje – best known as Mr Eko in TV’s Lost – claimed he was in talks to play Black Panther, while Raw Leiba (who appears in the upcoming Conan) has expressed an interest in the character and said he’d spoken to Black Panther comics writer Reginald Hudlin about it.

For those of you know who aren’t familiar with the hero, he is the alter-ego of T’Challa, ruler of the fictional African nation of Wakanda, whose technological advances are built on wealth from the also-fictional metal vibranium, which absorbs vibrations and was brought to earth in a meteorite.

T’Challa enhances his strength, speed and senses by using a sacred herb and wears a costume containing vibranium which provides protection and allows him to carry out death-defying acrobatics. In the comics, the Panther knew X-Men character Storm in his teens and in 2006 the pair rekindled their romance and married.

Hounsou tells io9 why he finds the character so appealing and why he hopes to star in the live-action film adaptation.

He said: “He’s a king, he’s a man of the people, and he’s very powerful – he challenges himself throughout his kingdom, and I think that’s rare when the king puts his own life [on the line] and challenges [people] to beat him, in order to see [who's] the best out there… He’s really cool. He comes from a world in Africa that is cool, and has all those minerals and it’s very exciting. It’s just a matter of time for that to be realised.”

Eagle-eyed fans will have noticed that some elements of the Black Panther’s comic book mythos were featured in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

Wolverine was part of a team of mutant operatives who travelled to Nigeria to find a meteorite. We later learned that military scientist Stryker had found the rock and extracted a metal that, when combined with several other metals, created an alloy called adamantium used to coat Wolverine’s skeleton and make him virtually indestructible. Producer Lauren Shuler Donner confirms on the Blu-ray commentary that the meteor-derived metal was intended to be vibranium, though it was never identified as such on screen.

In the comics, vibranium is also one of the materials used to make Captain America’s shield.

It was also the new element synthesised by Tony Stark in Iron Man 2, according to the novelisation of the film.

Meanwhile, here are the maps shown in Iron Man 2 that hint at Nick Fury’s awareness of the Black Panther and his African kingdom:

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