With T'Challa not coming back (via digital double, recasting, or any other Hollywood trickery), the Black Panther franchise could — who knows? — very well resurrect the villain of Erik Killmonger for a redemption-type story that keeps him around for future movies. Of course, the most obvious route would be to pass the heroic mantle on to Shuri (Letitia Wright), who occupied the role of Wakanda's protector in the comics for a time.
"Being in that world in a character that I loved playing, and working with [Ryan] and all that good stuff, it's family," the actor recently told People. "We created a family over there. So to be able to be in that world again is something that, I think, will always be on the table in some capacity."
Jordan described the Black Panther property as being "very, very near and dear to my heart," especially now that it's poignantly moving forward without Boseman. "[I] had a really tough year losing somebody close to me," he added. "And what that means for that franchise is it was devastating."
With a multiverse about to bust wide open within the MCU, it's not too far-fetched for Killmonger to come back as a good guy via some many-worlds mumbo jumbo (or even some post-Endgame snap shenanigans). Could the Ultimate Universe version of the character become the next Black Panther? Only time will tell. Right now, Black Panther II is scheduled to claw its way into theaters on July 8, 2022. Production hopes to kick off this summer, with Coogler back as writer and director.
"[He] is working very hard right now on the script with all the respect and love and genius that he has, which gives us great solace, so it was always about furthering the mythology and the inspiration of Wakanda," Feige said earlier this month. "There’s also the task of honoring and respecting the ongoing learnings and teachings from Chad as well."