Marvel’s Black Panther is shaping up to be the first box office blockbuster of 2018, with new details about one pivotal character surfacing that could have you looking at him in a whole different light. Christopher Priest, who became the first black writer at either Marvel or DC in 1983, is perhaps best known for his iconic run of Black Panther comics in 1998, which helped revitalize the brand and serves as the inspiration for next month’s Black Panther movie. At the beginning of that run at Marvel Comics, Priest created the character Everett K. Ross, played by Martin Freeman in Captain America: Civil War and Black Panther. Priest has revealed in a new interview that the character is actually inspired by Friends‘ own Chandler Bing, as played by Matthew Perry.
While Priest’s work on the Black Panther comics was overlooked for quite some time, after retiring from comics in 2005, he would ultimately become quite the revered icon in the comics world, with current Black Panther comics writer Te’Nishi Coates admitting that there would probably not be a Black Panther movie if it weren’t for Priest’s work. While the Black Panther/T’challa character was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, more than three decades before Priest’s run, Priest was the first to see T’challa as more of a king than a superhero. When he was considering a return to Marvel in 1998, as the company was undergoing severe financial hardships, he managed to convince Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti, editors at the new Marvel Knights imprint aimed at creating edgier stories, to create a new white protagonist, and thus Everett K. Ross was created, inspired by a Friends episode he watched called “The One With the Blackout.”
That particular episode featured Matthew Perry’s Chandler Bing finding himself trapped in an ATM vestibule with Victoria’s Secret model Jill Goodacre during a power outage. Priest later wrote about his inspiration, saying that while Bing was, “Respected and successful”, he was nevertheless “the horrified fish out of water.” Since he wanted his own version of Chandler Bing in his new Black Panther comic, he created Everett K. Ross, a “hopelessly overwhelmed white man” who works for the U.S. Government and serves as a diplomatic escort for T’challa during his trip to Brooklyn. Fans got their first look at Everett K. Ross on the big screen in Captain America: Civil War, played by Martin Freeman, and the first set photos from Black Panther revealed that he was returning for this movie as well.
Christopher Priest’s run on Black Panther lasted for 62 issues, and while it was underappreciated at the time, to this day it’s considered the most definitive take on the character. The first page of his first issue alone is considered iconic. The first page introduces Everett K. Ross as he stands on a toilet seat, without pants, pointing his gun at a huge rat named Buster, while Zuri, who in the upcoming Black Panther movie is played by Forest Whitaker, was telling Everett about the Wakanda leader, T’chaka, and how he forced out the “evil white devils from their homeland.” Whether or not that actual scene will be shown in the Black Panther movie remains to be seen, but it could be quite entertaining if we do get to see it.
In Captain America: Civil War, Everett Ross was the Deputy Task Force Commander of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, who reported to Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross, while trying to find those responsible for the murder of T’Chaka (John Kani), T’challa’s (Chadwick Boseman) father. In Black Panther, Everett K. Ross teams up with T’challa to hunt down the nefarious Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), who was first introduced in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Take a look at the full profile on Christopher Priest over at Vulture