The Panther Habit has been worn by the King of Wakanda for generations since the time of Bashenga, adopting the mantle of "Black Panther" to be Wakanda's protector. Centuries later, the Habit was adopted by King T'Chaka.
Death of Prince N'Jobu
In 1992, T'Chaka flew to Oakland, California in the Royal Talon Flyer to Prince N'Jobu's safehouse. After his Dora Milaje escorts verified N'Jobu's identity, T'Chaka greeted his brother then went on to tell him of an attack orchestrated by Ulysses Klaue that ended in the death of many Wakandans, as well as the theft of a large supply of Vibranium. T'Chaka then asked N'Jobu why he betrayed Wakanda to Klaue, to which N'Jobu adamantly denied.
However, T'Chaka had previously sent Zuri to keep an eye on N'Jobu, operating under the alias of "James", who outed the Prince and revealed the stolen Vibranium hidden in his apartment. After hearing N'Jobu's confession, T'Chaka ordered his brother to return to Wakanda to face trial for his treason, but N'Jobu instead retaliated against James, intending to kill him. Before he could, T'Chaka disarmed him and killed him with his claws, bring Zuri with him back to Wakanda.
Passing the Mantle
In 2009, T'Chaka's son, Prince T'Challa, adopted the mantle of the Black Panther as his father retired from the role. T'Challa then designed his own Panther Habit, taking inspiration from his father's Habit.
In the week following his appointment as Black Panther, T'Challa and Okoye were sent on a mission to save Wakandan hostages from Zanda, a Narobian terrorist, and Douglas Scott. During their confrontation with Zanda, T'Challa was shot in the shoulder with a Vibranium bullet, damaging it.
T'Challa donned the Panther Habit in order to avenge his father following his death in a terrorist attack believed to have been committed by the Winter Soldier. Tracking Bucky Barnes to Bucharest, Black Panther intercepted him during his escape from the Joint Terrorism Task Force, fiercely brawling against the infamous assassin until a helicopter distracted him, allowing Barnes to flee. T'Challa quickly followed, hunting him down to a traffic tunnel until he found himself in a standoff against Winter Soldier, as well as Captain America and Falcon. However, the three were interrupted by the arrival of War Machine and an entire police squad, to whom T'Challa removed his mask and revealed his identity.
Seeking revenge against the escaped Winter Soldier, T'Challa would don the Panther Habit again, fighting on Iron Man's side in the Clash of the Avengers against Captain America and Winter Soldier along with their supporters. However, he was stopped short of capturing the pair by Black Widow, who held him back with her Black Widow's Bite as they escaped in a Quinjet. Later, planning to finally find and kill the Winter Soldier, T'Challa followed Tony Stark to the Winter Soldier laboratory in Siberia where he discovered that the terrorist attack that killed his father was actually orchestrated by Helmut Zemo. Seeing the effects of revenge on Zemo, Black Panther chose to spare him to the point of preventing Zemo from taking his own life.
After learning that Ulysses Klaue had been spotted in South Korea, Shuri presented T'Challa a pair of new, upgraded versions of the Habit developed by the Wakandan Design Group, which were much lighter than his previous design due to being constructed from nanotechnology, as well as able to be stored within the teeth of a ceremonial necklace. After calibrating the Habit's nanites to the Vibranium tattoo behind T'Challa's ear, Shuri instructed him to mentally command it to activate.
Doing so, T'Challa watched in awe as the Habit materialized seemingly from nothing, complimenting his sister on her design. Shuri then demonstrated the nanites' ability to store energy, much to her brother's embarrassment as he was sent flying from the pulse it released. Impressed with his sister's modifications, T'Challa decided to continue using the upgraded Habit instead.
After they failed to capture Ulysses Klaue inside the Jagalchi Market Casino, T'Challa, Okoye, and Nakia chased after the arms dealer and his crew on the streets of Busan. After Okoye tossed a Remote Access Kimoyo Bead onto the hood of a nearby car, she and Nakia quickly went off in their own vehicle, with T'Challa close behind. As he ran to follow the chase, T'Challa donned the upgraded Habit and leaped onto the car being operated by Shuri from her sand table.
As they caught up to the convoy, Klaue and his men split into two groups. Okoye and Nakia followed one while Black Panther and Shuri followed the other. As they followed Klaue's goons, Black Panther was fired upon, prompting Shuri to remind him of his Habit's ability to redistribute the energy it gained from the gunfire. T'Challa then ordered his sister to drive around a large semi-truck, out of sight from Klaue's goons, where he leaped over and onto the hood of their SUV. Before they could react, Black Panther released a kinetic energy pulse, totaling the car and flipping it down the bridge as he used the energy to launch himself back to Shuri's car.
As he returned to the chase, Black Panther was fired at by Ulysses Klaue after he took out Nakia's Vibranium car using a modified Wakandan mining tool. With his new weapon, Klaue was able to destroy the car Shuri was piloting, launching T'Challa into the air. However, T'Challa reacted quickly, running along the side of a building before launching himself at Klaue's car. Landing near the hood, he used his Vibranium claws to rip out the wheel disk of the car, causing it to crash.
With nowhere for Klaue to go, T'Challa told him that he would finally pay for his crimes after years of running. Ripping off his prosthetic arm, T'Challa demanded to know where he was able to get Wakandan technology, but Klaue continued to taunt him. As T'Challa prepared to kill the South African mercenary, Okoye arrived, reminding him that there were witnesses in the area. Klaue began mockingly begging for mercy, to which T'Challa stated that every breath Klaue took was mercy from him. T'Challa then arrested Klaue, bringing him to a CIA black site for questioning.
When Erik Killmonger took the throne he took the golden Panther Habit that Shuri had left behind at her lab for himself. T'Challa and Killmonger both used their upgraded Panther Habits to great effect. T'Challa used his kinetic energy pulse to take out fleets of the Border tribe, first to get past the first enemy lines, and later to clear the path to save his sister Shuri.
Meanwhile, Killmonger used his habit to fight against the Dora Milaje who then used their Vibranium Spears to remove his necklace. They almost succeeded in subduing him until he used the kinetic pulse to blow them away. Nakia and Shuri arrived to pick up where the Dora Milaje left off. Shuri would fire single blasts from her Vibranium Gauntlets while Nakia used her Ring Blades for close quarters. Killmonger slashed Nakia's leg with his claws and tossed her off the battlefield. Shuri then switched tactics, firing a continuous blast from her gauntlets. This briefly slowed him down, but he then used his claws and short spear to destroy the gauntlets. At this point, T'Challa had escaped the Border tribe and tackled Killmonger to save Shuri, causing them both to tumble onto the train tracks in the mines.
They both clawed at each other, before leaping and activating their kinetic pulses. T'Challa devised a plan to deactivate Killmonger's suit by activating the train magnets, but at the cost of his own. The two continued to battle each other, while T'Challa angrily questioned Erik's motives, stating he was destroying the world. Erik allowed a brief moment of emotions as he stated with tears the world took away everything away from him, before resorting back to anger and mocked Zuri's death, causing T'challa to roar in anger. Eventually, they both wrestled over Killmonger's short spear, with T'Challa tossing it in the air, before catching it and plunging it into the destroyed section of Killmonger's suit, mortally wounding him.
T'Challa donned the Habit once more to confront Thanos' army upon their arrival. The suit and its kinetic energy pulse were vital in gaining an edge against the Outriders and Cull Obsidian. However, it proved to be worthless against Thanos when the Mad Titan confronted T'Challa and was disintegrated with its owner upon the completion and subsequent use of the Infinity Gauntlet.
The Panther Habit's vibranium composition makes the user completely bulletproof and near-indestructible, able to withstand two explosive arrows from Hawkeye's arsenal at point-blank range without any noticeable damage. Due to the lightweight properties of the metal, the suit doesn't inhibit the wearer's mobility in the slightest, and the user becomes physically superhuman, enhancing their durability to be able to withstand explosions and gunfire, as well as strikes from physically stronger opponents. The gloves have vibranium-laced knuckles built in, while the toes are also laced with vibranium, both of these are meant to enhance strike attacks. The suit is accompanied with:
- Vibranium Claws: Two sets of deployable vibranium claws embedded in the tips of the gloves' fingers; serving as a primary weapon of T'Challa during combat. The claws are exceptionally strong and razor-sharp, notably able to put scratch marks on Captain America's shield during the airport clash.
- "It is lighter, thinner and it absorbs energy for redistribution."
Presented to T'Challa upon his return to Wakanda, the latest versions of the Habit were highly upgraded by Shuri and now technologically superior to his original, as well as completely bulletproof. Most notably, the Habit was outfitted to harness a powerful energy field that it absorbs from external sources for later distribution, greatly enhancing its offensive capabilities. This version of the Habit is constructed from Wakandan nanotechnology that materializes from a ceremonial necklace worn by the Black Panther. Its features include:
- "Now tell it to go on. The entire suit fits in the teeth of the necklace."
- Suit Materialization: After Shuri calibrated the new Habit's nanites to his Vibranium tattoo, T'Challa, similar to Tony Stark's use of the Telepresence Headset, is able to mentally command the Habit to materialize from his necklace with the same energy field generated capable of shredding any other clothing it replaces. Due to the helmet being integrated into the Habit, T'Challa is able to summon and dismiss the helmet portion at will, as well as just its lenses.
- Suit Regeneration: After a small portion of the suit was destroyed by a blast from Ulysses Klaue's Prosthetic Arm, the Habit was able to reform the lost portion back. During the Battle of Mount Bashenga, when Shuri fired on Erik Killmonger with her Vibranium Gauntlets, the stream of sonic energy caused the nanites to retract from the impact area before quickly rematerializing. Additionally, both T'Challa's and Erik's Habit were able to regenerate continually, albeit with a delay, after the stabilizers for the Wakandan Maglev Train interfered with the Habit's materialization technology, weakening their defensive properties. This disturbance ultimately led to the death of Killmonger, as T'Challa was able to mortally wound him through the destroyed area of the suit.
- "The nanites absorb the kinetic energy and hold it in place for redistribution."
- Energy Redistribution: As explained by Shuri, a prominent feature of the upgraded Habit is its ability to redistribute stored energy. It can receive energy from any incoming source, such as bullets being fired at T'Challa or attacks from enemies, that its nanites will hold in place to release later. The Habit begins to glow from its accumulated charge of energy, to which Black Panther can use either by releasing it all at once, or to charge his strikes during combat, further augmenting the force behind them. However, the nanites' ability to store energy isn't without limit; after absorbing a grenade's explosion, the stored energy was suddenly released when Erik Killmonger fired a second grenade from close range at T'Challa, and again later during their fight in the Great Mound. Similarly, in his fight with Thanos, T'Challa was slammed with enough force to cause his Habit's stored energy to release.
- Kinetic Energy Pulse: Using the kinetic energy absorbed from the bullets being fired at him, T'Challa was able to disable a car with an energy pulse expelled by the Habit, using the propelling force to launch himself further into his pursuit. When he was overwhelmed by Border Tribe warriors, the Habit gained an increasing amount of energy from their attacks that T'Challa was able to release as a much more powerful and devastating pulse, strong enough to send multiple enemies flying. When the Dora Milaje turned on him, Erik Killmonger was able to break the energy lock formed by their Vibranium Spears with a pulse, throwing them back several meters.
- Vibranium Claws: Like its predecessors, the Habit possesses razor-sharp vibranium claws that are able to cut through almost anything, such as the wheel disk or roof of a car. However, the second Habit can deploy claws out of the fingertips as well as its knuckles.
- Sound Nullification: T'Challa wears sound absorbent shoes while using the Habit, enabling his footsteps to be completely masked, making it easy for him to be stealthy.
- Communication System: The Habit has a built-in communication system, allowing T'Challa to communicate with Shuri through her Kimoyo Beads.
- Concept art for T'Chaka's Habit by Andy Park reveal that an unused design of the Habit resembled the classic caped look Black Panther often had in the comics.
- In the comics, Killmonger wore a Wakandan armor equipped with spikes and energy blaster. The golden version of the Panther Habit is based on Killmonger's connection to his pet leopard in the comics.
Behind the Scenes
- Ryan Meinerding, Head of Visual Development of Marvel Studios, said "I tend to like to design the 'men-of-action' of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I find the ones I'm drawn to are the more physical ones, the ones who specialize in hand-to-hand combat. Panther's silhouette throughout the comics has always been lithe, and because the costume was primarily black with muscle shapes, the challenge with this one was trying to find a way to translate something that's simple to a real-world setting with enough texture and detail to not just be a man in a black leotard. I was trying to come up with ways of having the suit constructed that the audience wouldn't understand - it's meant to be woven together in ways that are nearly impossible to achieve in a practical setting, and therefore make it feel like it's from a culture that's way more advanced than ours. The overall concept is that it's a woven suit - on a more granular level, there is vibranium woven into the fabric. This vibranium would provide a silver sheen so that when it catches the light, it would glisten a bit. From there we tried to create a design language for patterns to fit very subtly into the hard vibranium pieces that are woven through the suit."