Black Panther is just weeks away from releasing in theaters, and there's still at least one question lingering based on some of the preview footage that has been shown from the film.
One of the moments from Black Panther already revealed is the new king walking the plains during a night when the sky has turned purple. There he finds a tree and several panthers at ease on its branches or around its trunk. This moment has been compared to a moment from The Lion King when Simba finds a similar locale and asks the spirit of his father, Mufasa, for guidance.
So what are these panthers? Well, it plays into that same comparison to The Lion King. These panthers are most likely the spirits of past kings of Wakanda and possibly even the embodiment of Bast, the Panther Goddess that the Wakandan Panther Cult is devoted to.
The line of Wakandan kings has been depicted this way in the Marvel Comics universe. One major moment comes in the early issues of Christopher Priest's Black Panther run, which began as part of the Marvel Knights imprint in 1998.
Priest's story begins with a madman named Achebe using an influx of refugees into Wakanda due to a civil war in a neighboring nation as a means of ousting T'Challa from his kingdom. Achebe then takes over ruling Wakanda himself.
Black Panther is exiled to the United States, but he's still working on a mean of retaking his kingdom. Black Panther knows that Achebe couldn't have achieved this coup on his own, or even through political connections alone. It turns out Achebe made a deal with the Marvel Universe's devil, Mephisto.
Mephisto is actually after the Black Panther's soul. T'Challa agrees to give Mephisto what he wants on the condition that Mephisto stops empowering Achebe. Mephisto agrees to the deal.
A Deal With the Devil
Black Panther then informs Mephisto that he has bitten off more than he can chew. T'Challa reveals Bast and tells Mephisto that his soul is bound to her, just like the many Wakandan kings who came before him.
Thus, his soul is bound to those kings as well. If Mephisto wants T'Challa's soul, all of these other souls come as part of the bargain.
The souls of the dead Wakandan kings are represented by panthers who proceed to pounce on Mephisto.
Eventually, Mephisto rescinds his claim to Black Panther's soul to avoid being torn apart by the panther kings' souls.prevnext
An Infinity Stone at Work?
In the comics, this scene with panther souls is brought about through a conflict with Mephisto, a fundamentally mystical being. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it may have more to do with another theory surrounding Black Panther and the kingdom of Wakanda.
Avengers: Infinity War is just a few months away. Fans know that Thanos is on a quest to acquire all six of the Infinity Stones to adorn his Infinity Gauntlet, granting the Mad Titan unimaginable, godlike powers.
Almost all of the Infinity Stones are accounted for. The Space Stone, in the form of the Tesseract, is in Loki's possession on the Asgardian refugee ship. The Avengers: Infinity War trailer shows Loki handing the Tesseract over to Thanos.prevnext
The Known Infinity Stones
The Mind Stone, formerly housed in Loki's scepter, is now in the Vision's head, giving the artificial body a life and a personality. The Reality Stone, also known as the Aether, is currently located in the Collector's Museum on Knowhere.
The Power Stone, also called the Orb, is the custody of the Nova Corps at their headquarters on Xandar. The Time Stone adorns Doctor Strange's neck as the Eye of Agamotto.
That only missing stone is the Soul Stone. There are several competing theories about where the Soul Stone is located. One suggests it rests in the eyes of an Asgardian, either behind Odin's eyepatch or in the all-seeing eyes of Heimdall.prevnext
Is the Soul Stone in Wakanda?
Another theory among fans suggests that the Soul Stone rests somewhere in the nation of Wakanda under the protection of the Black Panther.
The trailer for Avengers: Infinity War seems to back up the theory that the last Infinity Stone is in Wakanda. That would explain why Thanos leads his army to the hidden African nation. There are other possible clues as well.
In the comics, the Black Panther gains enhanced senses and physical capabilities by eating a heart-shaped herb connected to the Panther Goddess. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the connection could be more simply explained via the Soul Stone.prevnext
The Soul of Wakanda
The presence of the Soul Stone could also be used to explain how T'Challa is able to converse with the previous kings of Wakanda, as seems to be happening in that "Lion King" scene from the Black Panther trailer.
Marvel's Black Panther comics have introduced several mystical landmarks in Wakanda over the years that could be repurposed to house the Soul Stone.
These include the Shrine of Resurrection and the Necropolis, or the City of the Dead. Either could either would make a suitable place for the Soul Stone to rest under the watchful eye of the King of Wakanda.prevnext
Black Panther vs. Thanos
Whether the Soul Stone actually rests in Wakanda is still unclear. The Avengers: Infinity War trailer suggests that this is a possibility, but there's so much that fans still do not know about that movie that anything is still possible.
If the Soul Stone is not in Wakanda, then it remains mysteriously unaccounted for quite late in Thanos' game of conquest.
Meanwhile, Black Panther is still just on the horizon. Considering the footage we've seen, it seems likely that we'll learn more about the soul of Wakanda, or at least its lineage of kings when the movie opens in February.prevnext
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Black Panther opens in theaters on February 16th.
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.prev