First ‘Iron Man 3’ photo plus ‘The Black Panther’ movie

In the wake of “The Avengers” — and until “Iron Man 3” comes out in May 2013 — all of us comic book movie fans are going to be bouncing off the walls with every little bit of news that comes out.

So how about the bits that have come out in the past 24 hours?

Above is the first official photo from “Iron Man 3,” released by Disney and Marvel a few days after those leaked set photos of the Iron Patriot a few days ago.

Looks like RDJ as Tony Stark, surveying his ever-growing line-up of suits.

I have to say, though, I’m more excited about today’s news that it’s likely that one of the so-far-unnamed Marvel movies coming out in the next couple of years could be … “The Black Panther!”

As more than a few websites have pointed out, the Black Panther — secret identity of T’Challa, king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda — fits very easily into the Marvel movie universe that has built, over the past four years, into “The Avengers.”

There have been little Easter eggs, or at least references, to the Panther (co-created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby for a 1966 issue of “The Fantastic Four”) in previous Marvel films. A SHIELD map of the world in “Iron Man 2” had an indicator over the approximate location in Africa of Wakanda. And the shield (of another kind) slung by “Captain America” was made of vibranium, the ultra-rare metal found only in Wakanda. The sale of vibranium is the source of Wakanda’s riches and its high-tech society.

And T’Challa has been an Avenger — including a stint during the classic Kree-Skrull War series — and would fit right into an “Avengers” sequel.

The Panther — named before the founding of the 1960s political party, he was the first black comics superhero — has had a long history in the comics and is currently appearing as a member of the group in the Disney XD “Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” animated series.

Here’s hoping the rumors are true and a “Black Panther” movie gets announced, maybe even at this summer’s San Diego Comic-Con.

By the way … there are some other really cool characters out there that would also fit right into an “Avengers” sequel or their own Marvel movies.

Sweet Christmas! That’s right! I’m talking about Luke Cage, none other than Power Man (AKA the Hero for Hire).

Here’s hoping.

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