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East St. Louis native made Black Panther the ‘best-known black superhero’ in America

‘Black Panther’ trailer

T'Challa, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king. The release date for "Black Panther" is set for Feb.
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T'Challa, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king. The release date for "Black Panther" is set for Feb.

Up until Reginald Hudlin and Christopher Priest came along, Marvel’s “Black Panther” was written solely by white people.

It took 32 years until T’Challa, the king and protector of fictional African nation Wakanda in the “Black Panther” comics, was sculpted by black men; Priest in 1998 and Hudlin in 2005, according to The Root.

Hudlin, who was born and raised in East St. Louis, wrote the first 38 issues of volume four of “Black Panther,” and adapted the comic into a digital comic and animated series that aired on Black Entertainment Television.

His animated series made more of an impact on the character than anyone before him combined, as it made the Black Panther into one of the best known black superheroes, The Root reported. Hudlin made the Panther “unapologetically black” in the series, which added to its popularity. He also created T’Challa’s sister, Princess Shuri, and sculpted her into a strong African warrior who brought feminism to the series.

Marvel’s movie adaption of “Black Panther” was set to be released Feb. 16, and had already broken advance ticket sale records at Fandango more than two weeks before the movie was released, outpacing all other superhero movies, according to Fandango’s executive editor Erik Davis. The movie was nominated for an Oscar during the 2019 Academy Awards.

Hudlin also wrote a graphic novel about East St. Louis seceding from the U.S. to become its own nation after residents were denied the right to vote because they were mistakenly labeled as felons.

He was nominated for an Oscar for his role in producing “Django Unchained,” and is well-known for directing and producing “Marshall” and “House Party” and was the first president of entertainment for BET. He adapted “Django Unchained” into a graphic novel, and is the executive editor of the comic book sequel, “Django/Zorro.”

Hudlin graduated from Assumption High School in East St. Louis in 1979.

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