The first thing to know about the Black Panther is that he’s an interesting combination of brains and brawn. His real name is T’Challa, and he was born an heir to the throne of Wakanda, a fictional, isolationist African kingdom that also has some of the world’s most advanced technology.
T’Challa’s path to inheriting the Wakandan throne and becoming the Black Panther was far from direct. T’Challa’s mother died in childbirth, and when T’Challa was a teenager, his father was murdered by a Dutchman bent on stealing Vibranium, a rare Wakandan metal. (Some might remember that Vibranium was also the metal used to forge Captain America’s shield.) After attending schools in America and Europe, T’Challa returned to Wakanda for a ritual tournament, wherein he defeated and replaced his uncle S’yan as the nation’s ruler, also called the Black Panther. The feat earned him the Heart-Shaped Herb that made him a superhero: The herb links its bearer’s spirit to Bast, the Panther God, and imbues the newly crowned Black Panther with superhuman senses and extraordinary strength and speed.