As every MCU will be aware, Marvel Studios have a bit of a penchant for using other comic book heroes in their stand-alone releases to the ones listed in the title. Spider-Man: Homecoming had Iron Man, Thor: Ragnarok had Hulk, Ant-Man had Falcon, Captain America: Ciivl War had basically everyone – it’s just part of building a shared universe more organically.
And beyond those big star appearances, MCU film-makers have clearly also been encouraged to include lesser figures whose names and stories will be familiar to comic book fans (at least far more than they will to mainstream movie audiences). For instance, Aaron Davis appeared in Spider-Man: Homecoming, Doc Samson appears in The Incredible Hulk and Bill Foster (Goliath in the comics) will appear in Ant-Man And The Wasp. It’s almost like they’re incidentally included to prove Marvel knows its own history.
Most of the time, those appearances don’t lead anywhere – it’s just a case of Marvel using established names to tie to the comics with no real pay-off – but a planned appearance in Black Panther could have led to more.
According to Ryan Coogler – who spoke to CinemaBlend – in early drafts of the script, the film featured Elijah Bradley aka Patriot before he was written out:
Crazy enough, for comic book fans, we toyed with the character Patriot for a little bit. Early on we were interested to get our hands on him, Joe [Robert Cole] and I, but that ended up going away so we could focus on Wakanda a little more.
The ones that you see were kind of always there. M’Baku, Killmonger, T’Challa, Nakia, Okoye, Shuri, Ramonda, Klaue, Everett Ross… they were always in every draft. So we had to make sure that they all had arcs, and it had something to do with that.
Notice he doesn’t say they almost had Elijah Bradley involved – he explicitly names the superhero, suggesting he’d have arrived in costume. How that would have worked when he’s not a Wakandan remains to be seen, but we do know T’Challa will be leaving the country as part of the plan to deal with Erik Killmonger and Ulysses Klaue. So maybe we would have seen Black Panther getting some local assistance?
If that was the plan, you can see why it would have been cut to focus on the main story. But it’s a shame, especially as it could have been an opportunity to seed the arrival of the Young Avengers – who Patriot was a founding member of and who were formed in the comics after the main Avengers disbanded. That would have been great to see, especially with Marvel looking to add in some surprises to Phase 4.
And the very fact that Patriot was even considered perhaps suggests that there was some agenda to entertain the involvement of the team in future, so maybe it’s not completely done?