Back to IndieWire

Is There A *Name* Actor Who Could Convincingly Play Black Panther? You Decide

Is There A *Name* Actor Who Could Convincingly Play Black Panther? You Decide

I say, no.

Since last night’s rumor that Marvel Studios reportedly has a Black Panther movie on its slate, the obvious question that’s been on most minds is, just who should play the superhero from the fictional African nation of Wakanda

I spent some of the morning browsing through message boards and other sites, looking over lists of suggested actors, from writers and commenters – lists that range from the thoughtful, to the ridunkulous. Seriously, Will Smith as Black Panther? Really? And as much as I like John Boyega, I just can’t picture him in the part; nor Anthony Mackie, Isaiah Mustafa, Djimon Hounsou (a fan favorite – his name turned up on several lists; he’s too old at this point, to play the young Prince of Wakanda), not even Idris Elba, another fan favorite for the part. 

Assuming Marvel will start from the beginning, and go with a younger T’Challa, I imagine an actor in his mid to late 20s, or early 30s; and with that, immediately, the list of available actors – specifically *known* actors who could play the part – decreases dramatically; partly because there just aren’t many of them in the first place, who fit that criteria. Unless the studio chooses popularity over ability, and looks beyond Actors (capital “A” intentional), and considers musicians who’ve segued into acting. And even then, it’s a short list.

There are a few other things to take into consideration – height, size (or at least the ability to create size), and being believable with the accent – not just some generic *African* tongue that will likely only elicit laughter from audiences.

Some fans are insisting that the actor be African – even if they aren’t currently living within the continent; so naturally, Chiwetel Ejiofor’s name has also been mentioned, as have Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and David Oyelowo – all 3 Nigerians originally, living in the UK.

There were a few interesting choices I didn’t even think about, that I’ve read from others, including Aldis Hodge, Chadwick BosemanMehcad Brooks, and Nate Parker

Others suggested that Marvel look outside the world of acting, and at WWE Ghanaian star Kofi Kingston for example, and even MMA fighter Rampage, who has done some acting himself.

Who else? Tyrese’s name was mentioned, as was Edi Gathegi, Derek Luke, Wesley Snipes, and others; but really, mosts lists I found had some combination of the names mentioned here; and others, as I noted, just didn’t make any sense to me at all.

It’s like we’re playing darts or something; line up every black actor working today, throw in some rappers, wrestlers, fighters, and let’s see which one we can stick.

What do I think? I’m having a really challenging time coming up with anyone to be frank, even after thinking about it since last night. What I do know is that I’d prefer that the studio went with an Actor (the capital “A” is intentional), to give credibility to the project. They should take it very seriously, just as the WB has done with the Christopher Nolan era of Batman movies. So please no repeat of Steel… PLEASE!

Cast an Actor, not necessarily a star. I used to lean towards Chiwetel, more-so than any of the other popular choices, when talk began a year or 3 ago, about the potential for a Black Panther movie; he’s an Actor, and, with some training, could certainly be whipped into proper physical shape for the role. I felt he could be convincing, and his casting would give the movie the right kind of credibility.

However, I’m not so sure anymore, especially as he’s aged. And with that, as I’ve said several times in the past, I’d actually go with an unknown; less baggage. Go with an unknown, and then cast *name* actors around him to fill the supporting roles.

For example, if the chosen villain for the movie is Black Panther’s archenemy Ulysses Klaw, they could even cast a *name* actor in that part; lots of white actors to choose from there certainly.

I like what Brian Helgeland did with his Jackie Robinson biopic (42); I think many would have expected him to cast an actor with some mainstream popularity/awareness, but he cast Chadwick Boseman, who, for all intents and purposes, is a relative *unknown* even though he’s certainly not new to the game. And then he cast Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey.

But what do you folks think? Dig in with your general thoughts, and/or suggestions.

This Article is related to: Features


Nick O'Hair

Why has no one mentioned SEAN BLAKEMORE!!!!???? He has the build, the look, and the acting chops to do a great job with one of my favorite Marvel characters.


All that is really needed is an actor with all the basic foundation so that they have enough to build on. You can boil it down to 2 things
1) Someone with acting chops to understand/interpret/convey the character effectively
2) Someone healthy enough and willing enough to go through the necessary diet and training in order to get into "superhero shape"

Point blank
Outside of that, they just need a damn good script and strong actors in the supporting roles (just like every movie should aspire to). Movie magic will take care of the rest. Good makeup artist, styling, special effects, lighting, creative camera angles, and wardrobe/costumes can completely transform an actor's appearance and enhance their performance to make them fit the part. Those things can take an actor who you might be skeptical about playing a certain part and help them to fit the role in a way you couldn't imagine when all is said and done.
Just look at Chris Hemsworth's transformation into Thor or Chris Evans as Captain America, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye. Everyone was skeptical at first when they were cast in each movie. Some were even angry, but when everything finally came together and the movie was released, most of those people ate there words and shut up.
The age range also isn't as big of a problem as you might think. They can probably consider guys up to 40 years old without much issue and still have them play a younger character. Again, a little movie magic can do wonders and you wont even be thinking about the age. Not to mention, as a point of observation, black people generally tend not to show the progression age as obviously as other people (the saying "black don't crack" gets thrown around playfully but to an extent it's true). This is a possible positive for a potential franchise. Even if the role didn't call for a black actor, they could still work around the age issue if the actor was good enough in all other departments. Just look at Robert Downey Jr. He started filming the first Iron Man in his early 40s.

All I'm saying is don't get too caught up in the the details of the actor, their resume, level of fame, or physical attributes. As long as they're black, have the acting ability, and physical potential to get in proper shape; the film crew/studio/production team can pick up the slack from there.


rob brown from "the express" perfect build height and age


Tongayi chirisa will be a perfect fit for the role, take a look at his work on Crusoe,, He is african and the perfect age.


I read someone say Chewy Ejiofor does not have the body! Clearly you must not hit the gym much, it's called training my dear. Chewy definitely has the physical attributes to do it see Redbelt or Serenity, however they gonna bulk the crap out of him, they gonna beef him up something serious. Did you think Chris Evans looks like he does now before Captain America? No they have Hollywood trainers that work with the stars like Lou Farrigno for instance.
Will Smith gained about 40lbs to play Ali, the guy that's gonna be the next superman put about 30lbs, Wesley Snipes beefed up too to play Blade.
Studios are not worried about the seize of the actor they want someone that can go toe to toe with Downey Jr, Jackson, Chris Evans, Ruffalo etc that man MUST have intelligence, intensity and that "it"!


Some of the names thrown have me cracking up! August Richards, Eldis Hodge, Courtney B Vance. I m mean really? Maybe Anthony Mackie could pull it off, he definitely has the potential!


Why does every character who requires physicality have to be played by Micheal Jai White? He's not the only buff dude in Hollywood. Also I'm tired of Will Smith being shouted for every big roles like he doesn't have enough of these on his own. I think Chewy is the best and only choice he exuberant of intelligence and intensity.
He's only 34 and can play this role for years to come!

Dr. Phil Valentine

Yes. Only ONE. Michael Jai White. PERIOD!!!


I think Isaac Ssebandeke. an actor of Ugandan descent is perfect for the role. has the accent down to a T


The brotha Sean Blakemore of General Hospital fame is perfect for the role. He has the size, the acting chops and the look…perfectly!!! If he can pull off the accent, he's perfect. And please, none of that "he's not African" nonsense. ALL Blacks are Pan-Africans/of African origin. Let's not start discriminating against our own.


Chiwetel or David Oyelowe (Joe "Lighting") from Red Tails would be perfect for the role of prince T'challa & Djimon Hounsou could play his father T'chaka as he dies when T'challa is still a young boy.

Tana Huggins-Harris

I think for me Tyrese Gibson is the best candidate for the role, he has that sleek panther look…checkout the debate we have been having about it on…it has been an interesting talk and people have come up with a few suggestions.

Jena Marie

I would have to agree with CLEO. My friends and I were actually talking about J August Richards playing Black Panther the day after Avengers hit theaters, we think he would be an amazing fit. My 9 year old nephew agrees and he is a tough critic when it comes to Superheroes!


People have listed a lot of fine actors with potential but I'm still on team Chiwetel. He also has a lot going in his favor. He's had significant parts in at least 5 international blockbusters. He will have been the unquestioned lead in two films by well respected directors. He has a an extensive list of accolades for his acting in most of the films his been in, no matter what the size of his part. If you look at his credits, few black actors can compare to the mix of quality work he's done. That includes commercial and critical. This isn't to say that there aren't other actors out there that could possibly do the job. I will say though there are virtually no up-and- coming black actors that have been groomed or amassed the resume that he has. And Hollywood will look at a track record and to see if there is any name recognition. The only comparable actor is Idris but he actually plays a character that firmly exist in the movie version Avenger's universe. (Chris Evans Fantastic Four will not be in that universe.) I would love to see more young black actors either being given the chance or being groomed like there white counterparts. My only concern about Chiwetel is that as qualified and respected as he might be, he may lack the IT factor. While he's not old, now is the time when he needs to be making his mark as a leading man. Unless he gets a nomination for 12 Years A Slave, I don't know how that's going to happen.


Boris Kodjoe? Kent Faulcon (he has guest starred in every popular show that exists on tv. Does that count?) Terrell Tilford?

Okay, I'm just throwing some names out there. LMAO
It's sad that this is so hard! Really, really sad.


They need to get an unknown for this character. Period. Yes, it will be a risk but no one else really fits the role. See, this is what happens when films with black characters aren't being made; the new crop of black actors aren't being honed for this kind of role.

You know, in terms of just presence I think Jimmy Jean Louis would fit the role. He has the build and look and I know for a FACT that he can do an 'african' accent (I hate generalizing because, as a Ghanaian I know that all Africans do not sound the same but you catch my drift). As for acting I've seen him in the critically-acclaimed Ghanaian movie 'Sinking Sands'. Most of what he's done acting wise though are small and unknown roles so…yeah.




Stephen Hill is sexy and talented!


Michael Jai White Could Eat this Role for Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner. However his plate is quite full. He could do it though!

geoff thorne

It's Aldis Hodge or it's nobody. He's got the acting chops, he's got the physicality and he has that undefinable quality of intelligence in his eyes the money can't by and make-up can't fake.

It should be Aldis.

Dru B.

Jamie Hector (who has the physicality and intensity in his eyes), Michael Ealy, it's easily cast-able. What's more important are the writer and director like the Batman series, it didn't have to be Christian Bale, others could have pulled it off.


I would *love* to see Avery Brooks get this role. I love his deeply resonant voice. Another choice would be Gregg Baker – The Opera Star…Buff to the maxx, all that bass and virile!!!

Ian Evans

Nate Parker as Black Panther
Joy Bryant as Storm


Michael K. Williams.


It has to be Idris Elba. or Michael Ealy.


He's not exactly a name,but he has a huge following : J August Richards. He played Gunn on Angel and he's still a big hit at every con he shows up at. He'd be perfect image wise and has both the acting and fight training chops.


Michael B. Jordan could pull it off :)


Many TALENTED actors are capable of so much more than we get to see them do, so I feel that a number of the names mentioned here are capable of pulling off the role. Be real: did ANYONE know/think/have an inkling that Heath Ledger was going to act the hell out of the Joker like that?

Harvey Dent

I prefer Anthony Mackie for this role and have been beating the drum for him because he has the physicality, long and lean, to pull off wearing that black suit and he has the chops to pull off the role. The skills to play Hamlet is not required for this but I think Mackie can do for this role what Bale did for Batman by transcending the material.


Chiwetel Ejiofor would be the best pick based in terms of acting and athleticism. He is a very good actor that could pull off the super-smart, perceptive character of T'Challa; and we know from Serenity and Red Belt that he can do the action sequences.


Misha-Always the victim, even when given what you want. That is sad. I do feel bad about what I said because I don't think any of that about you, really I don't. Because I don't know you well enough to care. But I do care about this site & the conversations-both fun & heated-about this Industry because I feel it's necessary. But I don't get down with the vitriol. I don't like it on "Industry" sites like Deadline & I don't like it here. We need to be better than that & I need to better than that. It's why I apologized, because I started acting like the stuff I don't like-whether I agree with you or not. But it seems that you would only be content with being cussed out. I gave you what you wanted & it's hilarious (& masterful) that you now turned the talk about my sexism, my ignorance & the like but it is exactly what you seemed to NEED me time & time again. You have constantly said "it is what you do" "It is what you're doing" "You know what you're doing". Word of advice-Either I'm doing it, or I'm not. But someone who constantly looks for it, Wants It. Hammer Looking for a Nail. Yeah, I'm an "empty" insider. I make allll of this stuff up and have no idea what I'm talking about or what kinds of decisions are made. I get why you'd say that. I've been on here, what-a year? Maybe a little more and I pass "BS" info along to some of the S&A writers, some of the commentors about things before they've hit the street. Yep, that's me-"Know Nothing" Jug. I guess I do that because since I've worked at many of the studios we talk about & I love spreading "disinformation", just to see you silly little mortals flail about. I say what I say because I've been in on those notes calls. Heard Current Execs at ABC talk to Showrunners about actors they think are hot but can't act for shit. I was there when Isaiah Washington had to go to the Principal's office, oops, I mean Mark Pedowitz's office after the TR Knight mess. I know what REALLY happened. I know actresses that have been fired from shows because they "wouldn't do a cheap tawdry sex scene" on a soap but in reality they did the scene but were fired because they were shit actors & their replacement was in their makeup chair at Lunch Time. I've been there. Been in casting sessions. Been on both sides actually. Been on 20 Mil projects and done shit for free. I've learned waaay too much too horde it. I pass the info along because someone did it for me. If it comes off as "abrasive", "know it all" or to use your phrase "condescending" than that's on you. Yeah, it's in the form a "comment" but that's what it is. At least for now. Believe me NO ONE is giving info up in Hollywood and especially people of Color are not looking out for each other like we should. On Tambay's "HOW DO I BREAK INTO HOLLYWOOD" page, NONE of the usual suspects except Dankwa showed up to give advice. Drop knowledge to other Artists or Industry Professionals. Nobody showed up, 'cept me, Dankwa & I think Charles Judson. YOU certainly weren't there. Guess you were busy that day. Or you didn't feel the need to act like you know what you're talking about & help others out. Or maybe you have no information to pass on that's actually useful. To each their own. I do it because someone did it for me. But because what I say seems to always conflict with you, your thinking, your estimations of what's right, that means I'm condescending & I'm an "empty" insider. That's fine. Take it as you will. Hopefully this can be the end of it & on here we go our separate ways. Lord Knows I'm done with it LOL


Does one truly need an "A" list actor?? Was Tobey Maguire an A list actor before he did SpiderMan? Sure the Cider House Rules was a good movie, but…


I understand wanting to cast an African but its not important. DId they pick a Russian to play Black Widow. or a Swede to play THOR. Nooooooooo


"Some fans are insisting that the actor be African – even if they aren't currently living within the continent; so naturally, Chiwetel Ejiofor's name has also been mentioned, as have Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and David Oyelowo – all 3 Nigerians originally, living in the UK."

This still could apply to African Americans of African descent no? Here in the UK we who are born to African parents but are born in the UK are Black African British – not just living in the UK' – it's our home. There's nothing 'originally' about it – they are British Nationals of Nigerian descent. I've seen you do this a few times now, the sooner people come to terms with our dual identity the better.

I like Tony Kgoroge; Eamonn Walker – but they are too old.
Adewale would be cool too but like someone else mentioned, he Elba and the rest – its too obvious we need new blood.

If they're taking the character younger (ala all new – Spiderman age) like another Marvel Origins movie then I would gladly nominate: Daniel Kaluuya or John Boyega.


Chiwetel is one of my favorite actors but that role likely belongs to Elba if he wants it. And it doesn't matter that he had a bit part in Thor, especially since that casting got Tea Party types up-in-arms, and Chris Evans has essentially played two VITAL Marvel characters as Torch, now Steve Rogers. Michael Jai White would be a good choice as well, however, he might be better suited for Luke Cage, if the Hero For Hire franchise is ever launched.


Nate Parker or Aldis Hodge.

You cant go wrong with Either.


They should have the "Brotha" from Amistad.. In my opinion…

Chad Happens

I think Chiwetel would be a good pick. However I think Taye Diggs or Jamie Foxx would have a great portrayal of the Arrogant, but honorable king of Wakanda. When I think of casting for T'challa Im thinking about who can go toe to toe with Robert Downey Jr., convincingly shut him down like BP has done to Tony many times. There aren't many "Names" out there fit to do it and be the physical specimen.


Pete Mensah. Not only is he a decent actor but he has been practicing martial arts before the age of 10.


Michael Jai White.

End of story.


And no matter how you try to slice it, Ejiofor doesn't "read", look, walk, act younger than he actually is. But what do I know…I'm no expert.


Oh and I see Jug, the other condescending expert, has joined the party! Welcome, Jug! :)


"They scary thing is that the selections that come from black sites like this aren't much better." <<< So says Accidental Visitor, the expert on black leading men. Pssst AV, you do know that these type of discussions are subjective and not agreeing with someone's suggestion doesn't make them any less informed than you claim to be. With that said, no way do I see someone like Oyelowo in this role. IMO, he doesn't have the presence/gravitas to pull off such a character. And as a woman, he doesn't get my juices flowing. Isn't that part of being a leading man?


Studios will not go with an unnamed Black Actor for the Superhero role. It is already a risk with White actors and since studios are EXTRA nervous about "Black" movies anyway, they would try to get the biggest bang for their buck. I would love lesser known actor but somehow the crop of youngsters don't seem to have the same acting chops as the Elbas, Hounsous, and Ejiofors.

Dominique Marsell

All you have to do is watch the Reginald Hudlin BLACK PANTHER motion-comic DVD. Its all you need to know about the character. Djimon Hounsou is a year younger than Robert Downey Jr. so save all the OLD talk for an actor who does NOT have Djimon Hounsou's physique. Djimon Hounsou should ATLEAST play T'challa's father T'Chaka after already voicing the character in the motion-comic DVD. For Rampage's name to be even mention in this article is a SHAME when he couldn't even coherently play Mr. T in A-Team. Idris Elba is already a character in the MARVEL Studio universe so he cannot be T'Challa.


Oyelowo would be a good possibility as well.


Not to mention history with Whedon.


The picking of black actors by fans on fanboy websites are always laughable. That's mostly because there hasn't been a grooming of a new generation of black leading men (not simply actors. — leading men). Besides white folks tend to know only a half dozen black actors at any one time. They scary thing is that the selections that come from black sites like this aren't much better. This is what happens when no one in the industry in finding and hiring young black males who have potential universal/ mainstream appeal. It catches up to you during times like this. Still I would go with Ejiofor who is relatively young and has that needed gravitas. Not to mention history with


My top 3: Chiwetel, Nate Parker and Aldis Hodge. Now sadly, I'll have to go ahead and eliminate Chiwetel because, although he is an "Actor," I don't think he's the best physical match for the role. Parker would be my top choice, as I think he has the acting chops and the look to make for a convincing , potentially great T'Challa. Oh yeah, and he's got the sex appeal too! ;)

the black police

Well if even the almighty Shadow & Act cant suggest a good candidate then why should this movie even be made? If there are right actors for the role as you suggest then the movie is a lost. I dont know anything about Black Panther. His name alone is racially charged and brings to mind the blkack panthers of the civil rights era. I dunno if thats a good thing for marketability. (Maybe that Luke Cage character is a better bet, who knows). As for the actors, the actor that is chosen MUST HAVE LOADS OF SCREEN PRESENCE AND MUST BE HANDSOME, if they want the movie to do well anyway

Charles Judson

One of the fight scenes with Chiwetel Ejiofor in SERENITY. If that isn't a potential Black Panther, I don't know who is:


There are lots of unknowns out there who could take this role and make it work.


Let's not forget Tyler Perry. He's an action star now, remember.


Lance Gross would be able to pull off that role.

Curtis J

You mentioned the best two names – Chiwetel and Nate Parker. Past those two guys I can't see anyone else that's known in the role. Definitely not one of the big guns – and not Idris. Edi Gathegi is a good actor, but frame-wise and looks-wise he wouldn't work.


I think that Idris Elba has both the physicality and the acting chops required to pull off the role


Idris Elba


He may not be considered a *name*, but he could possibly pull it off 'Distinguished Gentleman'-style with some name recognition– Ernie Hudson, Jr.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *