2018 was a stellar year for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Two of their superhero films, Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War were the year’s two top-grossing films. Each centered around a man who faces powerful enemies but ultimately triumphs as he pursues his vision of a better society.
One of those men triumphed in the baby name arena, too. In the ultimate 2018 superhero showdown of Black Panther vs. Infinity War, T’Challa vs. Thanos, the winner is Thanos.
It was an admittedly modest victory. The name Thanos, which didn’t appear in America’s baby name stats in 2017, was given to 13 boys last year. The name T’Challa was completely shut out. For those of you who don’t follow the Marvel heroes, here’s the key spoiler: Thanos is the villain. He destroys half of life in the universe.
Black Panther was the pop culture phenomenon of the year. It not only ruled the box office, but marked a cultural watershed with its fusion of superhero dazzle and African heritage. But astonishingly, it made almost no impact on baby names. A small handful of character names like Nakia, Shuri and Zuri saw modest rises, totaling a few dozen babies. But no T’Challa, no Wakanda, no Okoye or Panther or Dora Milaje. For perspective, the combined effect of all of the Black Panther names was dwarfed by the rise of the name Atreus, a character in the video game God of War.
Yes, style is king in baby names. But there were intriguing names to be found in the world of Wakanda for parents who cared to look. The fact that they didn’t is the year’s most surprising baby name story.