Black Panther continues to run roughshod over all other films at the box office—Forbes thinks it could clear the $1 billion mark this weekend. Critical and audience reception has been overwhelmingly positive, and people have already started writing sequels and spin-offs across social media. That exuberant clamor for a return trip to Wakanda has already prompted Marvel boss Kevin Feige to confirm that a sequel is definitely in the works.
Entertainment Weekly devoted its latest issue to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which will be forever changed by the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War (or so we’re told). Given the success of Ryan Coogler’s entry into the MCU, the publication asked Feige about the future adventures of T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), Shuri (Letitia Wright), Okoye (Danai Gurira), and Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o). Though he said he had nothing “specific to reveal” at the time, Feige did say “we absolutely will do that.” He described the studio’s process of looking beyond the current film at other storytelling opportunities, and said “there have been plenty of those conversations as we were putting together the first Black Panther. We have ideas and a pretty solid direction on where we want to head with the second one.”
The whole interview is an interesting read, especially as Feige continues in that “Always Be Considering franchise potential” vein. The Marvel Studios president says the biggest gamble is “a film that doesn’t have a part two behind it or wasn’t a sequel.” He admits “a lot of studios would love to have four franchises that they can keep doing sequels to,” but says Marvel is trying to avoid getting stuck in a rut. “We specifically didn’t want to do that,” Feige says, “because we wanted to keep bringing new characters to the forefront, because there’s an embarrassment of riches in the comic books.”
EW wasn’t able to get any details on whic new characters will join the MCU, but Feige did say that the studio has heard the call for greater inclusivity (and seen what it can do at the box office) in front of and behind the camera: “I think we’re seeing it shift from a very purposeful initiative to just a fact of life, to just a way of doing business.” Feige wouldn’t say which “people we hired that we’re not ready to announce in all different capacities, particularly behind the camera,” but “as Panther has so loudly declared, [representation] can only help you, can only help you tell unique stories, can only help you do things in a new, and unique, and fresh, and exciting way. If you do that, audiences will notice it, and appreciate it, and support it.”