Black Panther has quickly become one of Marvel's most successful solo hero debut films, which means that a sequel is definitely going to happen at some point. It may take a few years, but Marvel Studios is probably already planning to make a return trip to Wakanda beyond the events of Avengers: Infinity War. It helps that Chadwick Boseman signed a deal for multiple films, and he's not the only cast member who made that commitment. The challenge for Black Panther 2 is to top the original movie and give the returning characters meaningful journeys of their own. The first film has already utilized the majority of Black Panther’s supporting cast and two of his most compelling villains. So, who's left?
Fortunately, there are many comic book stories to draw from for the second film and beyond. Several memorable Black Panther runs were echoed in the movie, including Don McGregor's "Jungle Action" storyline that introduced Killmonger, and Reggie Hudlin's relaunch that debuted Shuri as T’Challa's sister before she became a fan favorite. But it was Christopher Priest's Black Panther title that left its mark all over this film, including the tone of the story, as well as the introductions of Nakia, Okoye, Everett K. Ross, and the wildly popular Dora Milaje. That's why many of the characters that we want to see in the sequel also come from Priest's time on the book. But there are a few other familiar faces as well ...
In the late '90s, Priest positioned Black Panther as Marvel's Batman. Towards that end, he introduced Achebe as T'Challa's Joker. Achebe may wear a reverend's collar, but he's no man of God. Achbe has a Keyser Soze-like past in which he was rumored to be a farmer who was betrayed by rebels and left for dead before selling his soul to Mephisto (one of Marvel's devils) to get his revenge. Achebe subsequently took advantage of T'Challa's willingness to accept refugees into Wakanda before staging a coup and holding on to power for an extended period. And during his more insane moments, Achebe started regularly talking to his hand puppet, Daki. But don't mistake crazy for stupid. Achebe's got the mind of a tactician, and he could rival Heath Ledger's Joker as a master planner. That's why he has the potential to be the next Black Panther villain on the big screen.
Surprisingly, Monica Lynne was left out of the first movie despite the fact that she was T’Challa's girlfriend and even his fiance for years in Marvel's comic book universe. Monica was an American jazz singer who saved T'Challa after a battle with Killmonger, and she was the first great love of his life. Unfortunately, many in Wakanda had a huge problem with T'Challa potentially marrying an outsider, especially an American. That's got a lot of dramatic potential for the sequel, and Wakanda's new profile on the world stage could lead Monica into T'Challa's orbit in an unexpected way. Plus Nakia had a more prominent role in the first movie as T'Challa’s ex-lover. Monica and Nakia don't exactly have a happy history together, but that's another reason why it's worth exploring in the sequel.
Did you know that T'Challa has a brother? More accurately, he has an older adoptive brother named Hunter. In the Priest run, it was established that T'Challa's father, T'Chaka, adopted Hunter after his parents were killed in a plane crash in Wakanda. As the only white member of the royal family, Hunter took on a fanatical love for his adoptive country as a way of constantly proving his place as a real Wakandan. He even adopted the identity of the White Wolf, the leader of the Hatut Zeraze, Wakanda's secret police. However, Hunter was eventually exiled from Wakanda for his brutal tactics, which further complicated his relationship with his 'brother.' There is a nod to the White Wolf in this movie, but there's no indication that the MCU's Black Panther has another vengeful family member out there. However, Hunter's inclusion could be another way to make the sequel's story just as personal as the first one.
Queen Divine Justice
The Jabari tribe are prominently featured in Black Panther, and the movie's conclusion appears to end decades of seclusion by giving them a place among the other powerful tribes. If Ryan Coogler or the next director wants to upset that delicate peace, he could introduce Queen Divine Justice, an American teenager who was forced into the Dora Milaje. Ce'Athauna Asira Davin's was the rightful heir to the Jabari chief who was raised in America under the assumed name, Chanté Giovanni Brown. 'Queen Divine Justice' was her chosen nickname, and she had a unique ability to talk her way into and out of trouble. She was also the key to the Jabari's future in Wakanda, which could give her a major role in the MCU.
Black Panther has no shortage of great female characters, but there's always room for a female villain. That role could easily go to Tilda Johnson, aka the Deadly Nightshade! Although she began her career as a super science villain who fought Captain America and Falcon, Nightshade also played a supporting role in Priest's Black Panther as both an ally and a secondary adversary. She's not quite evil enough to be the main villain, but Nightshade's more complicated character arc could be very compelling on the big screen. She may even go in a more heroic direction, if her recent appearances in Occupy Avengers and Nighthawk are any indication about her future. Supposedly, Gabrielle Dennis is playing Tilda Johnson in Luke Cage Season 2, but we'd still love to see her in this franchise. Plus, we're long overdue for some real crossovers between Marvel's film and TV series.
Kraven the Hunter
Although Kraven the Hunter is primarily a Spider-Man villain, Ryan Coogler recently revealed that he had specifically asked to include Kraven in Black Panther. That request was denied, but perhaps Marvel and Sony can work something out for the sequel. Kraven may not be able to match T'Challa's technology, but few characters know the jungle as well as Kraven. A Black Panther vs. Kraven match may make a lot more sense than throwing Kraven up against Spidey or the insane notion that Kraven can somehow carry his own film. Hopefully Sony will eventually realize that.
Solomon Prey was one of the few crime lords who managed to operate within Wakanda, even though he only appeared in the "Panther’s Prey" storyline nearly 30 years ago. However, Solomon's intellect and his bat-like mutations could make him an ideal opponent for T'Challa in the sequel. Solomon Prey is one of the few villains who is physically and mentally a match for the Black Panther. Solomon's character and powers would need to be updated for the MCU, but he should still merit consideration for Black Panther 2.
Kevin 'Kasper' Cole is the only American to ever be known as Black Panther, but only because he essentially stole the identity when T'Challa was in a self-imposed exile. Kasper used an old Black Panther costume to fight crime in New York for some initially selfish reasons, but he became more heroic later in Priest's run. Even T'Challa saw heroic potential in Kasper, and he gave him the White Tiger costume and identity after reclaiming the Black Panther mantle. Black Panther 2 may be too soon to introduce Kasper as a costumed hero, but he could be a supporting character in the next story. And if he does take one of T'Challa's costumes, then we'll have a pretty good idea about what would happen next.
Zenzi is a more recent addition to the Black Panther mythos from Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze's run on the title. But she could legitimately be one of the leading villains in the sequel. Zenzi has the power to bring anyone's deepest emotions to the surface, which she used in Wakanda to help create an uprising against T'Challa. She didn't create these feelings of unrest among the people, but she took advantage of them and nearly brought down the country alongside her allies. It seems safe to say that not everyone in Wakanda will be comfortable with T'Challa's actions at the end of the first film. Perhaps that could give Zenzi and her allies the opening they need to strike.
Assuming that the Disney and Fox deal goes forward, the X-Men will become a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If that happens, T'Challa will likely encounter Storm, the woman that he went on to marry in the comics. Their official history dates back to when they were children, although the Reggie Hudlin run played up their romantic feelings and eventually gave them a lavish wedding in Wakanda. For a few years, Black Panther and Storm were the rare superhero couple that stayed together. But nothing lasts forever in the Marvel Universe, and they've since divorced. Still, it would be hard to pass up a chance to show this super couple on the big screen, and it could even lead to some interesting material for Nakia as well.