It wouldn’t be overstating it to say that Black Panther wasn’t just a cultural phenomenon, but one of the best Marvel films in recent years. It was nominated for 14 Academy Awards, including Best Picture (the first superhero film to receive such an honor), and won six. It was that rare breed of film loved by critics and fans alike. With all its success, a sequel seemed inevitable. Until the tragic death of star Chadwick Boseman in 2020 put those plans on hold. Rather than recast the role, the production team decided to honor Boseman’s memory and incorporate his death into the new film, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. As T’Challa himself said, “Death is not the end.” Read on for more details about the upcoming film.
- Wakanda Forever opens on November 11, only in theaters
- This film completes Phase Four of the MCU
- With Boseman’s death on everyone’s mind, grief will be a major theme, so get your tissues ready
Marvel released a featurette on Oct. 11 in which the cast and crew talks about the legacy of Black Panther, what it was like to go back to Wakanda without Boseman, and what to expect in the new film. If they are feeling this emotional just talking about it, it’s definitely going to come through in the movie.
Here’s the official teaser, featuring Tems’ gorgeous rendition of Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry,” which was released back in July for San Diego Comic-Con. Sorry, we are definitely crying.
Then we got another, longer trailer in early October with some additional footage.
Many of the Black Panther cast members will be back, including Angela Bassett, Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Winston Duke, and Martin Freeman. Someone who won’t be returning is Daniel Kaluuya, last seen in Nope. He had to back out due to scheduling issues.
On the production side, Black Panther director Ryan Coogler is behind the camera once again. He also co-wrote the screenplay with Black Panther screenwriter Joe Robert Cole. A lot of the team who worked on that film will be returning as well, including Oscar winners Ruth E. Carter (costumes), Hannah Beachler (production design), and Ludwig Göransson (musical score).
In the trailer above you can see a shot of a female Black Panther suit. Although it hasn’t been confirmed, the popular theory among fans is that Shuri, T’Challa’s genius sister, will be the one to take the mantle from him after his death. We also can’t rule out Nakia, Okoye, Ramonda (how cool would it be to see Angela Bassett being a badass queen?), or the possibility that more than one of them will wear the suit.
The film will introduce a few new comic-book characters into the MCU, most prominently one recent fan-favorite and one who’s been around since Marvel’s Golden Age.
Let’s start with the oldest one first. Namor, the Sub-Mariner, is sort of like Marvel’s version of Aquaman (though he beat him to the newsstands by two years). In the comics, he is the prince of Atlantis through his mother’s royal line, and is half-human on his father’s side. His background seems to have been radically changed in Wakanda Forever, though. He now has roots in Aztec and Mayan culture, and hails from the underwater realm of Talokan. He’ll also have ties to K’uk’ulkan, or the Feather Serpent God. At the film’s world premiere, executive producer Victoria Alonso told Deadline that his name is short for “el niño sin amor,” which translates to “the boy without love.”
The comic-book version has a lot in common with Black Panther, in that he places the safety and security of his people above all else, even if that puts him on the opposite side of superheroes like the Avengers, or anyone else who gets in his way. He’s also a mutant, and he will have his characteristic pointy ears and ankle wings. He is played by Mexican actor Tenoch Huerta.
Also making her live-action debut in the film is Riri Williams. Created by Brian Michael Bendis and designed by Mike Deodato in 2016, she wears a powered-up suit similar to Iron Man’s and goes by the name Ironheart. A brilliant MIT student and engineer, she could give Shuri a run for her money as a science prodigy. In the comics Riri was so clever she was able to reverse-engineer Iron Man’s armor out of scavenged parts and build a suit for herself. The big departure from the source material here will be her connection to Tony Stark, who was alive in the comics and thus able to endorse her emulative designs. Following her appearance in Wakanda Forever, Riri will return for an Ironheart series on Disney+ in 2023. She is played by Dominique Thorne.
Here’s Thorne talking about the character and how she got the part on the purple carpet at the film’s premiere.
We’ve also seen glimpses of other comic characters such as the blue-skinned Attuma, played by Alex Livinalli. He was originally another Atlantean who often served as an adversary to Namor. The woman with the elaborate headdress accompanying him is Namora, who was once Namor’s ally and cousin in the comics.
Finally, there’s new cast member Michaela Coel (I May Destroy You), who joined the film as Aneka, a captain of the Dora Milaje, specifically because the character was written as queer. In the comics, she falls in love with a fellow warrior, but we don’t know yet how her story in the film will reflect the source material.
Here’s the official description from Marvel Studios:
“Queen Ramonda, Shuri, M’Baku, Okoye and the Dora Milaje fight to protect their nation from intervening world powers in the wake of King T’Challa’s death. As the Wakandans strive to embrace their next chapter, the heroes must band together with Nakia and Everett Ross to forge a new path for their beloved kingdom.”
Based on the trailer and other marketing materials, it appears as though Namor’s realm becomes a target for surface dwellers. He seems to be able to travel through any body of water through a portal, which explains how he’s able to travel to Wakanda. From the looks of it, his visit doesn’t start out as a friendly one. So the people won’t have much time to grieve their king, or name a successor, before things kick into high gear again.
For those who can’t get enough of Black Panther on the screen, Marvel has announced a new podcast in conjunction with writer-director Ryan Coogler’s company Proximity Media—Wakanda Forever: The Official Black Panther Podcast. Journalist and author Ta-Nehisi Coates, who had an award-winning run on Black Panther for Marvel Comics, will host the series. Each episode will feature cast and crew interviews, host narration, music from the film, audio clips, and field recordings. The podcast premieres on Nov. 3.