X-Men '97 Director Answers Questions About Black Panther's Cameo in Season 1 Finale

X-Men '97 Director Answers Questions About Black Panther's Cameo in Season 1 Finale

As fans wonder why T'Chaka appears as Black Panther instead of T'Challa in the X-Men '97 Season 1 finale, Jake Castorena explains it well.

X-Men '97 Season 1 Finale Credit: Marvel Studios Animation / Disney+

It has been a week since X-Men ‘97 Season 1 ended, but many still can’t get over its epic conclusion. True to its fashion, Episode 10, Tolerance is Extinction - Part 3, features many Marvel cameos, from Iron Man to Doctor Strange to the surprising appearance of Peter Parker with Mary Jane Watson. However, one appearance that has fans thinking is T’Chaka’s Black Panther. As they wonder why the animated series doesn’t feature T’Challa instead, director Jake Castorena answers this big question.

In an interview with ComicBook’s Phase Zero podcast, Castorena explained that he and the reboot’s creative team think bringing out T’Chaka instead of T’Challa in the X-Men ‘97 Season 1 finale would make sense. This served as a visual signifier that they were in the past, considering he was the King of Wakanda before his son. However, some fans pointed out that T’Challa was already the Black Panther in the 1990s Fantastic Four animated series.

“There's always multiple timelines right there. There's always a one-off,” he said. “'This is exactly how I like it, except for that one thing.' OK, cool. But it's still the thing. So, who's to say what timeline is the right timeline, the proper timeline?”

Castorena continued that Black Panther’s appearance was part of closed-door conversations that he wasn’t aware of. It only involved showrunner Beau DeMayo and the other executives. However, he teased that fans would not be ready for what they were about to do in X-Men ‘97 Season 2, hinting they would elaborate on that.

“At the end, we tease it at the end of 10,” he continued. “We're gonna have to elaborate on that…”

Whatever the fans think, Castorena insists that the revival series is set in the ‘90s. Though T’Challa is the natural successor of T’Chaka, he would have been a kid when the show took place. He also stresses that Fantastic Four is the only animated series with T’Challa, which happens even before T’Chaka is assassinated.

“But, that's the best thing about our sandbox and multiple universes,” he added. “For us, it just felt right.”

Fantastic Four - Prey of the Black Panther Credit: Syndication (The Marvel Action Hour/Marvel Action Universe)


When did T’Challa become Black Panther?

In the comics, T’Challa was the son of Wakanda’s king, T’Chaka, who was still the Black Panther. However, when his father ran afoul of the Vibranium-obsessed Ulysses Klaw, T’Chaka eventually met his death. T’Challa traveled the world to study at the best universities. When he returned to his homeland, he secretly participated in an open challenge to the current Black Panther, his uncle S’yan.

After successfully defeating him, he revealed his true identity and surprised everyone after seeing he was T’Challa. From there, he took his rightful place as the King of Wakanda and the new Black Panther.

Though his age wasn’t revealed, he was believed to be in his 20s when he started to be the Black Panther. He was then depicted as being in his early 30s when he became an experienced fighter and the king.

Whatever the case, Castorena explained that T’Chaka’s appearance in the X-Men '97 Season 1 finale was a reminder that the show was set at an earlier time. He also stressed that the series didn’t happen currently but in the past.

“So, it's the constant. Just to kind of check that timeline math. If that makes sense visually? Remind the audience that we are in the nineties, right? We are not current,” he continued.


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All episodes of X-Men ‘97 Season 1 are available on Disney+. Castorena repeatedly emphasized that X-Men ’97 was set in the past, making it fitting to show T’Chaka as the Black Panther instead of his son.

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Jonnalyn Cortez (1133 Articles Published)

Jonnalyn is a book lover who discovers Netflix and gets stuck on the couch watching all day. If she’s not busy writing about her favorite fandoms, she plays with her Star Wars-inspired-named dogs, Chewie and Wookie.