Marvel's Black Panther movie continues the story of Martin Freeman's Everett Ross, the superhero registration task force operative we met in Captain America: Civil War. Ross has been a prominent character in modern Black Panther comic books, but his allegiances and character have been fluid from story arc to story arc. In the comics, Ross has been depicted as silly comedic relief, a trusted friend and confidant to T'Challa / Black Panther, and an instrument for agencies and plunderers (like Ulysses Klaue) to invade Wakanda.
So, which version of Everett Ross are we getting in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
"I think there's enough ambiguity there for him to be either and both," Freeman said. "I think the position that he's in, like, he works for the CIA, he works for the world's only superpower, so like, an undiscovered African country that has all these goodies in it could easily be, 'Oh good that's payday.' Or that could be something that he wants to respect, I guess, and I'll just have to lay the tips in there."
If you want to hear more about how Freeman's version of Everett Ross relates to his comic book counterpart, be sure to check out that portion of our set visit interview.
Ross' arc in Black Panther will carry a lot of subtle yet significant meaning. The character has often been referred to as the "white lens" for the mostly African world of Black Panther, and, as Freeman himself describes above, his thematic arc will hinge on the socio-political metaphor of how this representative of white, Western culture and superpowers ultimately treats this proud, independent African nation that is stocked with valuable resources.
In a larger thematic sense, Ross could be the key to aligning a lot of the larger non-black audience with the themes and characters of Black Panther, or potentially alienating that crowd, if Ross turns out to be another evil archetype of "The Man." We'll see how Marvel and director Ryan Coogler choose to play it.
Black Panther opens on February 16, 2018. Other upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe movies include Avengers: Infinity War on May 4th, Ant-Man and the Wasp on July 6th, Captain Marvel on March 8, 2019, the fourth Avengers movie on May 3, 2019, the sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming on July 5, 2019, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in 2020.