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Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is set to premiere in a few short weeks. The movie almost didn’t happen after the death of Chadwick Boseman in 2020, and Coogler recently admitted that he almost walked away from film-making altogether after the actor’s passing.
Coogler eventually changed his mind, of course, and has said that Wakanda Forever will honor Boseman’s legacy, including his portrayal of T’Challa. As the movie’s full trailer makes clear, Wakanda Forever will also introduce at least one new Black Panther, which begs the question: Which character will take on the Black Panther mantle after Boseman’s T’Challa?
There are several possibilities for who will become the next Black Panther. Read on for some of the likely candidates, and why they may be the one to pick up the mantle.
Shuri (Letitia Wright)
T’Challa’s sister, Shuri, is a strong bet for becoming the next Black Panther. Historically, the powers that come with being Black Panther have been passed down through the Royal Family, which makes Shuri the obvious choice to take up the position. Shuri also has the smarts and technological know-how to develop an even more impressive version of the Black Panther suit, making her well-suited (pun intended, sorry) to wearing one as well. There's precedent in the comics, too, as Shuri has donned the Black Panther suit on the page before.
Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o)
Nakia had a close relationship with T’Challa and at the end of Black Panther, she was overseeing Wakanda’s humanitarian efforts. In the first film, Nakia had refused to take the last heart-shaped herb that gave someone the powers of Black Panther, with a wounded T’Challa eventually ingesting it instead. With T’Challa sadly gone in Wakanda Forever, however, she might decide to take it if another flower is found.
M’Baku (Winston Duke)
Another person who chose not to take the heart-shaped herb for himself in the first movie is M’Baku, the leader of the Jabari Tribe. While the trailer for Wakanda Forever showed a woman in a Black Panther suit, that doesn’t completely confirm that there will be only one Black Panther. Winston Duke, who plays M’Baku, is reported to have gotten a “hefty” raise for Wakanda Forever, which suggests his character has a larger role to play in the film. Could part of that role include becoming one of next Black Panthers?
Okoye (Danai Gurira)
Okoye is the head of Wakanda’s elite fighting force, the Dora Milaje and has been noted to be one of the greatest warriors of her time. She fought against Thanos and his minions in the Avengers films, and continues to lead the Dora Milaje. Her undeniable fighting abilities as well as her commitment to Wakanda make her a strong candidate to become the next Black Panther.
Ayo (Florence Kasumba)
Ayo is the second-in-command of the Dora Milaje and also helped Bucky Barnes overcome Hydra’s brainwashing. She is another strong warrior who is loyal to Wakanda, and while she’s more of a long shot than other folks on this list for becoming Black Panther, she also has the strength to become one if she is called to do it.
More Than One of the Above (Or Someone Else?)
There is a chance that there will be more than one Black Panther in Wakanda Forever. There’s nothing in MCU canon that prevents more than one individual from taking that heart-shaped herb, and even less of a barrier if becoming Black Panther doesn’t require taking the flower. Perhaps Okoyke and Ayo become Black Panthers together? Or maybe M’Baku and Shuri both take on the role?
This is all conjecture, of course, and we’ll have to wait until Black Panther: Wakanda Forever premieres in theaters on Friday, Nov. 11, to know for sure.
Looking for more superhero action? X-Men: First Class is now streaming on Peacock.