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Black Panther's Powers And Abilities Explained

Many will have been introduced to Black Panther through the Marvel Cinematic Universe played by Chadwick Boseman, but the character has a long and rich history in the comics. King of the fictional sovereign state Wakanda, T'Challa is a unique hero in all sorts of ways. He was one of the first Black superheroes in Marvel Comics, setting the stage for other well-known characters who would make their debuts in years to follow, including the likes of Blade, the Falcon, and even Luke Cage.

Another way that he differs from standard heroes in the world of Marvel is the source of his powers. Black Panther has a number of distinctive abilities and skills, making him a fighter who can battle it out with Captain America and the Winter Soldier comfortably, but it is the source of them that is most unusual. But whereas Iron Man relies solely on technology and Doctor Strange has access to magical abilities, T'Challa uses a combination of advanced tech and the mystical arts. (And while there have been multiple Black Panthers in the comics, including Shuri, androids, robots, and Skrulls, we're going to focus on the original, T'Challa.) With "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" delving even deeper into the Black Panther mythology, here's a look at Black Panther's real powers and how he came by them.

The title of Black Panther is passed down, creating a line of successive heroes

Technically, Black Panther is not a single person, but rather a title that has been passed down through the monarchy of Wakanda. The incumbent is also the leader of the Panther Tribe and is tasked with protecting their country and people from all threats. While the role is hereditary, that doesn't mean that the heir to the throne is guaranteed to become a Black Panther, as they must first prove they are worthy of taking up the mantle. Two of the first Black Panthers included the legendary Bashenga and his predecessor, Mosi, who ruled Wakanda in the 8th century B.C. and 1,000,000 B.C., respectively.

The character most commonly associated with the Black Panther moniker is T'Challa, the son of T'Chaka (played in the films by John Kani). He had an adopted brother known as Hunter or the White Wolf and a mother who died shortly after she gave birth to him. According to his fictional history from Marvel, he became Black Panther after returning to Wakanda and challenging his uncle S'Yan for the position of leader of the country. He ends up becoming a hero not just for Wakanda but for the entire world, fighting alongside superhero teams such as the Avengers and the Fantastic Four while revealing his home nation to other countries (via Polygon).

Black Panther has enhanced speed, agility, strength, and durability

In both his movie form as part of the MCU and the comics, Black Panther has a range of skills and abilities that make him a challenging adversary. As Collider notes in an interview with the Russo brothers, he is capable of fighting the Winter Soldier and holding his own in the battle. His powers can largely be equated to the effects of the Super Soldier Serum, making him as strong and durable as characters like Captain America.

According to the "Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe #2," the hero is stronger than any standard human and easily able to outclass Olympic-level athletes in strength and speed challenges (via Inverse). He can lift more than four times his own body weight, run at speeds exceeding 40 mph, and sustain strenuous physical activity for hours on end without being fatigued.

He is essentially at the peak of human condition for all of these attributes so that he can pull off impressive feats like being able to hold his breath for almost 10 minutes or leap across entire buildings. All of these abilities come together to make T'Challa one of the best hand-to-hand fighters in the entire Marvel universe, often cited in the top 10 alongside the likes of Wolverine and Iron Fist.

He also has extra powerful senses

Another part of his physicality that was superpowered by eating the Heart-Shaped Herb was Black Panther's senses. All of his mental faculties and senses have been heightened as a result of his connection to the Panther Goddess Bast, who acts as his patron. Though his senses are not quite as powerful as other heroes, such as Daredevil, they have impressive practical uses.

For example, his sense of smell can distinguish between hundreds of people and even hunt them using their scent. "Black Panther" Vol 3 #25 states that he can pick up the scent of someone he is tracking and follow them across vast distances, as well as being able to memorize and recognize individuals from their smell alone. From a person's body odor he can even tell if they are afraid or lying.

Along with the capacity to see more clearly, including in the infrared and electromagnetic spectrums, Black Panther can pick out individual ingredients in the food that he eats. All of this makes him a formidable opponent when it comes to trying to escape from or deceive him, as the augmented senses give T'Challa a massive advantage.

His powers partly derive from a mystical connection to the Panther Goddess

Although T'Challa is undoubtedly well-trained and naturally talented, the source of most of his powers is the Panther Goddess known as Bast (via The Washington Post). This deity has long been associated with the country of Wakanda and the Panther Tribe in particular. According to the official Marvel site, the god is inspired by deities from the Egyptian pantheon and in the fictional history of the comics was first worshiped in the country along with her father, Ra, and sister Sekhmet. After several thousand years, Bast and Sekhmet began to be worshiped in Wakanda and bestowed their blessings on those deemed worthy.

Bast's blessing is most closely associated with the Black Panthers, who lead the official state religion of Wakanda. The Panther Cult first emerged when Bashenga fought against the mutated Wakandans who had been transformed by the vibranium meteor that hit the land. He was made into an avatar of the Panther God to aid his cause, and this connection to Bast allowed the Black Panthers to rule Wakanda for generations. The descendants of Bashenga have subsequently sought the favor of Bast so that they themselves can have the power and authority to lead.

Becoming the Black Panther involves completing dangerous trials and consuming the Heart-Shaped Herb

As part of the process of becoming a Black Panther and gaining the blessing of Bast, individuals have to go through a series of dangerous trials. This ranges from challenging the incumbent Black Panther if they are still alive as well as fighting warriors from the tribes in Wakanda (via Games Radar). Only someone who is capable of beating all of these opponents is deemed worthy, although there are also other trials that must be completed as well.

The final step to becoming a Black Panther is to consume the mystical and rare Heart-Shaped Herb. This plant is said to be a gift from the Panther Goddess herself but is actually the result of the vibranium meteorite that hit Wakanda during prehistoric times, causing radiation to mutate and drastically change all life around it. According to Collider, a solution is made using the plant that is then applied to the body of the prospective Black Panther, which can also be consumed. However, the Heart-Shaped Herb is dangerous in its own right and capable of killing those who come into contact with it if they don't have the protection that Bast offers.

The process also gives him a significant healing factor

Healing factors are no stranger to the world of Marvel Comics. Many fans will know of Wolverine's ability to repair himself after sustaining incredible amounts of damage, in some cases even recovering from his body being completely destroyed (via Screen Rant). In fact, the idea of super healing has become something of a trope in the fictional universe that Marvel has created, with the likes of Blade, Deadpool, and the Hulk all demonstrating an ability to heal much faster than normal humans can.

T'Challa doesn't have as potent a healing factor as many other Marvel characters, but he is still capable of healing from minor injuries at a rapid rate. As well as providing some immunity to diseases and poisons, it means that small wounds and scrapes won't keep him out of action when in a fight. Killing Black Panther is extremely difficult, and only serious injuries would ensure that he can't get back up to fight. Like many of his other powers, this healing factor manifested after he consumed the mystical Heart-Shaped Herb.

Black Panther has superior intelligence

Fans who know of Black Panther from the MCU films might not be aware that the character is as impressive an intellect as he is a fighter, since in the films, Shuri (Letitia Wright) appears to be the top scientific mind of Wakanda. But it's true — Black Panther could even be compared to the likes of Batman from DC Comics in terms of intelligence; he's a character who is capable of outthinking his opponents as well as overwhelming them in battle (via The Ringer). "Incredible Hulk" #601 noted that he has considered among the smartest people living on the planet, while "Fantastic Four" #608 demonstrated that only Reed Richards was able to keep up with him mentally.

Having grown up in Wakanda, T'Challa had access to some of the finest education on the planet. However, he didn't just study in his home country; he traveled around the world to further his knowledge at places like Oxford University. The "Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Master Edition #9" reveals that he has something of a photographic memory and can replicate almost any technology that he is given the chance to study even briefly. He has used his scientific mind to invent gadgets to aid him in his quests, and Marvel has stated that he has a masterful tactical mind as well.

As the leader of Wakanda, the Black Panther has access to vast wealth and impressive technology

As the king of Wakanda, T'Challa has access to a vast amount of wealth. Fandom suggests that the hero may well be the richest superhero in comic book history. His fortune largely comes from Wakanda itself, a rich and thriving nation that has huge reserves of vibranium. The impressive effects of the ore have made it much sought-after, and Black Panther's wealth dwarfs that of other rich heroes, such as Iron Man.

According to Screen Rant, the country has national reserves in the trillions of dollars, and it has diversified its investments so that it doesn't have to rely solely on vibranium for its wealth. Shut off from the rest of the world, Wakanda was largely untouched by the troubles of the world throughout its history and has become the most advanced nation in the world due to its technology (via Vulture).

The effect of this incredible wealth and technology is that the king has access to the very best training facilities and equipment. This allows him to hone his skills to perfection and ensures that he only gets the best, including his gadgets and the vibranium-laced suit he takes into battle. His decision to open Wakanda up to the world has also brought him strong allies and increased diplomatic relations with other nations (via Polygon).

A vibranium-lined suit boosts his abilities and provides extra protection

The suit that Black Panther wears, officially known as the Panther Habit, also boosts many of his innate abilities. Made with vibranium, the same material used in the construction of Captain America's shield, it makes the wearer invulnerable to many types of damage (via Marvel). It can even absorb the impact of gunshots at close range and other powerful attacks. The movie version of the high-tech suit comes with retractable vibranium claws for close-quarters combat and is made lightweight so that it doesn't restrict the hero's movements (via Collider). In battle, it is also able to absorb kinetic energy and disperse it to augment Black Panther's own physical attacks.

His special outfit can operate in a similar manner to Spider-Man's, allowing him to grip walls and climb buildings that would otherwise be impossible to mount. It may even allow him to walk on water if he has a running start (via ComicBook). The suit also gives Black Panther an advanced cloaking ability that can make him practically invisible according to The Washington Post. The technology is especially useful when it comes to stealthily avoiding detecting and infiltrating enemy headquarters. His boots can also allow him to drop from great heights unharmed or leap long distances with grace and ease.

The hero has resistance to magic

Along with his resistance to disease and poison thanks to the power of the Heart-Shaped Herb and the blessing of Bast, Black Panther has also acquired protection against magic. This happened during the "Doomwar" series, when Doctor Doom was able to effectively remove all of his powers and force the mantle of Black Panther to be passed on to T'Challa's sister, Shuri. As SyFy notes, Doom himself even tries to prove his worthiness to Bast at one point to try and become the leader of Wakanda.

In an effort to get back his powers by other means, T'Challa worked with the sorcerer Zawavari, a servant and voodoo practitioner loyal to the royal family. Using his magical knowledge, Zawavari is able to restore many of T'Challa's abilities as well as some new ones. Chief among them was resistance to almost all forms of magic, making mystical attacks almost useless against Black Panther.

The Dora Milaje offer constant protection as bodyguards

Anyone who has seen MCU movies such as "Black Panther" and " Avengers: Infinity War" or even the television series "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier" will be aware of the Dora Milaje. In the MCU they act as elite soldiers who are sworn to protect the Black Panther and serve the people of Wakanda. Led by General Okoye, they play a prominent role in the African country and are highly regarded at home and abroad. Trained from a young age, they are masters of many forms of combat and are capable of going toe-to-toe with experienced heroes like Bucky Barnes. This makes them perfect bodyguards and a big problem for anyone who wants to cause harm to T'Challa.

The group has a similar yet more problematic origin in the comics. Sent from tribes across Wakanda as the very best warriors, they also have a sort of diplomatic job, ensuring the tribes are represented in an attempt to stop centuries-old conflicts from breaking out once again. However, the Dora Milaje are seen as wives-in-waiting for the king and were forbidden from becoming romantically involved with any other person. This element, like much of the Dora Milaje, is inspired by the real-life Agojie warriors, dramatized in "The Woman King" (via Smithsonian Magazine). Recent writers have attempted to remove this function of the Dora Milaje from "Black Panther" comics, though (via Vice).

Black Panther also has some less well-known powers

As well as his arsenal of abilities and powers most people are familiar with, there are a few less well-known examples that many fans will be completely unaware of. One of the stranger powers that T'Challa has demonstrated during his long history includes necromancy. "Secret Wars" #7, which was released in 2015, sees the King of Wakanda work with Namor and Reed Richards to raise an army of zombies to fight against Victor von Doom after striking a deal with the Panther Goddess. The deity gives the hero the ability to communicate with the dead and raise them as soldiers to fight on his behalf. T'Challa becomes one of several Marvel characters who've had a brush with the undead in the comics. The Heart-Shaped Herb that T'Challa had to eat as part of the ritual to become Black Panther also allows him to communicate with his ancestors in the afterlife (via Marvel).

Other examples have been powers that Black Panther has only possessed for a short amount of time or in one-off stories. In "Incredible Hulk" #601, he uses a teleportation device that he has created himself to travel large distances instantaneously. Meanwhile, a comic series featuring Kiber the Cruel also saw the hero able to exercise clairvoyance, so that he could see into the future and witness events yet to occur.