Compared to other superheroes in the Marvel universe, Black Panther doesn't have an altogether well-known list of adversaries. Sure, the enemies he goes against are routinely strong, but they lack the same name recognition as someone like Spider-Man's regular antagonists.
Nevertheless, Black Panther has amassed a decent list of enemies since his comic book debut in 1966. Many of these characters have gone on to enjoy widespread attention through their depictions in the MCU. In contrast, others have appeared in some of the strongest comic storylines featuring the titular Wakandan king, T'Challa.
With the coming DVD release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, we thought we'd look back at some of the most memorable foes Black Panther has faced over the years.
No, not that Venom. A different character entirely from the Spider-Man villain and later anti-hero, Horatio Venomm grew up shunned by his childhood friends, forming an attachment to snakes by way of companionship.
Having spent most of his time studying and learning how to manipulate his reptile buddies, Venomm began using them as a weapon, building natural immunity to their venomous bites. Later, he enjoyed success as a close ally of Erik Killmonger, helping the Wakandan exile invade his native country and becoming a regular antagonist of Black Panther even after his partnership with Killmonger had concluded.
Born in Wakanda's neighboring country of Niganda, Zenzi was a powerful empath able to read and manipulate people's emotions. Becoming the leader of her nation's army, she formed a crucial alliance with then-Wakandan ruler Tetu, leading her into direct conflict with Black Panther.
A true politician at heart, Zenzi's ability to change people's emotions is her most valued asset. She's capable of turning a crowd of mellow Wakandans into a mob of enraged rioters or transforming any one of her cowardly soldiers into the most hard-hearted of warriors. It's a unique superpower, and one that makes her a dangerous enemy to T'Challa.
A once-promising young man growing up in Wakanda, Tetu left his country of origin behind to gain a broader perspective on life. Venturing into the Wakandan jungle, he soon gained the ability to manipulate nature.
But superpowers alone aren't what make Tetu such a great villain. Relying on his new abilities, he set about overthrowing T'Challa, igniting a civil war in the country and leading his anti-monarchist faction, the People, to power.
A fierce leftist who has regularly butted heads with Black Panther over the direction of their country, he's a rare villain with a more political basis in reality — rather than one motivated by the desire for power or profit alone.
10. Baron Zemo
Every Marvel fan knows Baron Zemo, the German aristocrat whose family line dates back to the 15th century and who remained loyal to the Nazis during World War 2. Though commonly considered a primary adversary to Captain America, Zemo has routinely proven himself to be a thorn in Black Panther's side.
Zemo is renowned for his physical hand-to-hand combat skills, possessing many of the same physical attributes as Captain America himself. However, it's his organizational and leadership skills that make him such a formidable threat, including his stints putting together the Masters of Evil — one of the foremost groups to oppose the Avengers.
The comic book stand-in for Satan, Mephisto, has come into contact with almost every superhero in Marvel's universe and is directly responsible for some of the worst moments in each of their lives. He's battled everyone from Spider-Man and Doctor Strange to the Silver Surfer and Doctor Doom — having also fought Black Panther on several occasions.
Mephisto's primary motivation is to corrupt as many souls as possible. Having been defeated by T'Challa once, the demon resolves to destroy everything T'Challa loves as revenge. Not only that, but he's also the primary reason for Achebe and Malice's respective transformations into their current villainous selves.
10. Ulysses Klaw
Brilliantly brought to life by the underrated Andy Serkis in the MCU, Ulysses Klaw is one of Black Panther's fiercest foes. A former Nazi scientist, Klaw was charged with investigating Wakanda, studying the country's advanced technology and natural resources (specifically vibranium).
After the end of the war, Klaw became a physicist, compressing the power of sonic energy into physical mass. Needing to power his sonic-charged suit with vibranium, Klaw ventured to Wakanda, murdering the nation's ruler, T'Chaka, when the king tried to intervene.
Losing his right hand to T'Chaka's son and successor, T'Challa, Klaw became one of Black Panther's most persistent antagonists, as well as battling the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, and Ka-Zar.
9. White Wolf
The surrogate brother of T'Challa, young Hunter arrived in Wakanda after a plane crash killed his parents, leading King T'Chaka to raise him as one of his own. As a white outsider, Hunter was treated with suspicion and hostility by his fellow Wakandans — although Hunter still maintained a deep love and patriotism for his adoptive country.
Knowing he would never earn the title of king from his father, Hunter developed a deep-seated sense of jealousy toward his younger brother, T'Challa. Compared to T'Challa, he believed himself to be a better choice for the monarchy due to his strength, war-like resolve, and affection for Wakandan culture.
Adopting the name White Wolf and using a vibranium mesh suit very similar to Black Panther's own, he's a fascinating foil for Black Panther — acting almost as a Bizarro version of the hero.
8. Kraven The Hunter
Given that Kraven's main gimmick as a character revolves around his “big game hunter” reputation, it shouldn't be surprising that he would come into conflict with a hero like Black Panther.
A notorious villain of Spider-Man, Kraven is driven by his desire to hunt the most dangerous game on Earth — his main targets being New York's famed webslinger, Black Panther, and Tigra.
With his lack of superpowers and heavier emphasis on hand-to-hand fighting, his battles with Black Panther are some of the more brutal in Black Panther's comics, with Kraven himself always a fun villain to see T'Challa face.
A variant of T'Challa's sister from Earth-2301, T'Channa and the rest of her siblings were defeated by T'Challa during a contest to determine the next ruler of Wakanda. Knowing she lacked the strength to best her brother in combat as is, T'Channa left Wakanda, hoping to expand her knowledge and devise the skills necessary to become the country's next monarch.
Her journey eventually took her to Latveria, where she became a loyal student of the magician, Doctor Doom. When Doom taught her virtually everything he knows, she usurped the position of Latveria's ruler from him, killing her former teacher and becoming the next Doctor Doom.
T'Channa's familial relationship with Black Panther makes for an intriguing villain. On top of that, there's also the supreme knowledge of sorcery she commands, T'Channa quickly becoming every bit as dangerous — if not more so — than the original Doctor Doom.
A character who made his debut in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (played by Tenoch Huerta), Namor the Sub-Mariner is one of the oldest characters in Marvel comics, predating most of the heroes we know today by over 20 years (including Iron Man, Hulk, Spider-Man, and Black Panther).
The ruler of Atlantis, Namor is part mutant, part Homo mermanus, possessing the superhuman abilities of hydrokinesis. Over the decades, he's blurred the lines between traditional hero and villain, aligning himself with the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, and the X-Men, while also occasionally combating those same groups.
In terms of his relationship to Black Panther, Namor can be seen as an incidental rival of the Wakandan ruler, their combative view of each other often a result of a misunderstanding between their two kingdoms. Though occasionally begrudging allies, they are more often than not stringent enemies.
Once a poor South African farmer, Achebe's life was destroyed after his home was razed by neighboring guerillas who left him for dead. Bargaining with the mythic deity, Mephisto, Achebe was able to survive his fatal injuries, recovering enough to hunt down those who had wronged him.
A grinning psychopath who's been compared to Hannibal Lector, Hans Gruber, and the Joker, Achebe is one of the more unstable villains in Black Panther's rogues' gallery — as well as one of the most terrifying.
Time and time again, he's tried to overthrow T'Challa, working in secret from the shadows in order to do so. He may not be as well-known as some of the other villains on this list, but he's far and away one of the most memorable. Once you've seen him, it's impossible to completely forget him.
3. Doctor Doom
You don't have to read Marvel comics to know Doctor Doom. His place in comic fandom is rivaled only by Magneto, Venom, Loki, or Galactus. While he's traditionally considered the arch-enemy of the Fantastic Four, the good doctor has also been portrayed as an occasional enemy of Black Panther.
Perhaps his most memorable encounter with T'Challa came in the five-issue miniseries, Doomwar. Working with a rebel group known as the Desturi, Doom sought control of Wakanda to gain a monopoly on its vibranium supply. Facing Black Panther in combat, Doom managed to beat T'Challa decisively enough to leave the Wakandan king in a coma for a short time.
With the Desturi and his signature Doombots by his side, Doctor Doom took control of the nation. However, his chance at securing vibranium was thwarted when T'Challa — who, believing his people could live without the precious metal, destroyed their vibranium cache, preventing the resource from falling into Doom's hands.
The leader of the Jabari Tribe, M'Baku presides over a micronation independently ruled within Wakanda. A longtime rival of T'Challa, M'Baku's hatred towards Black Panther extends well into T'Challa's ascension to the Wakandan throne.
The second greatest warrior in Wakanda (the first being Black Panther), M'Baku regularly plots ways to steal the title of king from his counterpart, installing himself as the ruler of Wakanda.
Seeking to turn Wakanda away from its advanced technological self, M'Baku dons the name of Man-Ape, using the superhuman strength given to him by Baron Macabre in his battles against Black Panther. Though Winston Duke's portrayal of the character in the MCU maintains a far more ambivalent relationship to T'Challa, his original comic book counterpart is frequently hailed as one of Black Panther's strongest enemies (both from a literal and narrative perspective).
1. Erik Killmonger
Famously played by Michael B. Jordan in the first Black Panther film, the version of Killmonger we see in the MCU is largely true to his initial appearances in Marvel comics. Originally born in Wakanda under the name N'Jadaka, Killmonger watched his parents murdered by outsiders, then was promptly kidnapped by a traitorous Wakandan citizen who raised Killmonger as his own.
Seeking to avenge his parents' deaths, Killmonger became a top-ranked mercenary working for the likes of Kingpin, before journeying back to Wakanda as a revolutionary leader. Using the experience he had accumulated through years of servitude to New York's most feared gangster, Killmonger regularly challenged Black Panther for his throne.
Other villains like Klaw might've had a greater impact on Black Panther's personal life, but few match the appeal of Killmonger. A tragic villain whose troubled past provides some greater semblance of relatability, you're able to understand where he's coming from — something that can't be said for most adversaries on this list.
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.