One of the joys of these types of "shared universes" like the Marvel Cinematic Universe is all the in-house references and easter eggs dotted throughout the plot. Marvel's Black Panther may be the most standalone of the Marvel films so far, but it's still jammed packed with references. Being based on the world of comics means we get references from two directions, both from the already established MCU and from the source material.So let's run down all the Black Panthers easter eggs we can find in the film that you probably missed the first time around. WARNING: Spoilers for Black Panther follow.
Easily my favorite of the easter eggs is that the only location we visit in the United States is Oakland. It's the scene of T'Chaka's biggest mistake, the place where Killmonger grew up, the city that will host the first Wakandan outreach center. But it's the home of the original Black Panther Party, which was founded in 1966. The Black Power signs are everywhere too, even in N'Jobo's apartment, decorated with Public Enemy posters.
So where have you seen that image before? Or why *does* that line seem so familiar? Let's run down all the callbacks and Easter eggs tucked away in Black Panther.
Shuri's lab, we learn is deep in the heart of Mount Beshenga, a giant stone monument made from the asteroid of Vibranium that fell to Earth millions of years ago.
Those who were paying attention to the opening of the film will recognize that name as part of the story N'Jobu tells his son N'Jadaka when he asks for a bedtime tale of "home." Beshenga was the name of the first King of Wakanda, who had the vision to become the Black Panther.
Fathers & Sons
Did T'Chaka's younger self in the 1992 flashbacks look like a really spot on casting to you? It should! T'Chaka is played by South African actor John Kani. The man playing him in the 1992 flashback: Atandwa Kani, his own son.
Then there's Zuri, the older version of which is played by Forest Whitaker. The young version in 1992 is played by Denzel Whitaker. They're not actually related, but they look so alike, that they've been cast as father and son in films like The Great Debaters. (The resemblance is unmistakable, as even Killmonger realizes who he is and addresses him as "Uncle James" just before taking him down.)
We're first introduced to Killmonger as part of Klaue's team of bad guys. In a comical moment, Erik decides to make off with a mask from the museum. Not because it's made of vibranium, but because he's "feeling it."
Why is he feeling it? Because it looks like the ship that the King of Wakanda travels on, the one he saw take off that night in the sky before he discovered his father was dead.
Shuri's Vine Joke
Shuri has one question for him when he turns up in her lab: WHAT ARE THOOOOOOOSE?
It might seem like an odd shoe joke to audiences who never watched Vines, but for those who know their memes, it's the above video that Shuri is aping. A true Gen Z child indeed.
Back To The Future "Sneakers"
Speaking of the shoes that Shuri calls "Sneakers": The "old American movie" their dad watched that inspired her to create them? Back To The Future.
(Also the "Sneakers" thing might weird American audiences out. After all, they're all called "sneakers," right? Until you remember that most African nations speak British English, which calls them "trainers.")
Klaue's Arm Cannon
When Klaue first arrived, fans asked where his arm cannon was, as it was one of his defining features in the comics. When he arm got ripped off at the end of Ultron, it was a sign. Right on time, the cannon turns up, just for Klaue to lose it to the US government.
One of the most stunning moments is when T'Challa is defeated by Killmonger in ritual combat, and Erik tosses him over the falls. But that's from the comics, specifically the Panther’s Rage series. When Killmonger and T'Challa meet the first time, they go one on one, and T'Challa loses, only to be thrown over the falls.
When T'Challa returns to fight for his throne, we discover that the rejected "gold" necklace from Shuri's lab is around his neck, warning us that our Big Bad has a suit to make him equal to our hero. But look closer: This second suit isn't just gold trimmed, it has actual leopard spots.
That's deliberate. Black Panther was created as a side character in the Fantastic Four, before the name became associated with the Black Power political movement. Once it did, Marvel got nervous and changed the character to "Black Leopard"... but it didn't stick. Having Killmonger's gold suit, which is the one T'Challa rejected, be the "Black Leopard" suit is meta on the part of the production.
Doctor Strange's Sanctums
Just before Killmonger's plans get interrupted, he and W'Kabi are discussing which War Dogs have agreed to receive weapons. Note the list: London, New York, and Hong Kong. Exactly the same cities where Doctor Strange has sanctums. One wonders if he might have been involved with that?
I guess we'll have to keep an eye out for the answer in Infinity War....
Speaking of which! The final easter egg in the film comes in the post-credit sequence when Shuri's "other broken white boy" turns out to be Bucky Barnes from the end of Captain America: Civil War. But note what the kids are calling him: "White Wolf."
That's not a Game of Thrones reference. That's the nickname given to the white child that T'Chaka adopted after he's orphaned in a plane crash at Wakanda's borders. The White Wolf is one of the Black Panther's closest allies and trusted advisers. Perhaps Bucky may grow to fill that role?