Warning: This article contains spoilers for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
A lot went down in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The 30th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe serves as a fitting tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman, while providing exciting revelations and setting up some exciting plot threads, so let’s break them down.
Were there any surprise cameos in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever?
Don’t expect any big superhero cameos in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, but we did get a surprise return from Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger. His death in the first Black Panther film made him an unlikely candidate to return, but thanks to the Heart-Shaped Herb, we were able to see him again. Although Killmonger destroyed all the Heart-Shaped Herbs in the first film, Shuri was able to synthetically recreate them in her lab.
Shuri drank from the Heart-Shaped Herb, hoping to receive the powers of the Black Panther. As we saw with T’Challa and Killmonger in the first movie, drinking the herb caused Shuri to visit the Ancestral Plane. Shuri expected her ancestral guide to be her mother Queen Ramonda, who had been killed by Namor earlier in the movie. Instead Shuri was shocked to see Erik Killmonger waiting for her.
Killmonger reminded Shuri of the sins of her father T’Chaka, and encouraged her to embrace her desire for vengeance.
Who is the next Black Panther?
If that previous paragraph on the Heart-Shaped Herb didn't give it away, the next Black Panther is Princess Shuri herself. While Shuri attempted unsuccessfully to recreate the Herb to save her brother T'Challa, she was later able to succesfully recreate it with the help of a bracelet that Namor gave her.
Like T'Challa, Princess Shuri also has heightened strength and speed, however her fighting style differs from his. She seems, unsurprisingly, more tech focused. She also doesn't seem to have much interest in ruling Wakanda either.
Who is the new ruler of Wakanda?
With T’Challa and Queen Ramonda both dead, it seemed certain that Shuri would ascend to the throne. At the end of the film, we see the people of Wakanda preparing a coronation ceremony for Shuri, similar to the one we saw for T’Challa in the first film. But to everyone’s amazement Shuri doesn’t show up, and it appears she’s sent M’Baku in her place. M’Baku declares his candidacy for the throne, and asks the crowd if there are any challengers.
The scene ends before we see how the rest of the coronation plays out, but it’s safe to assume that M’Baku is the new king of Wakanda. M’Baku had previously challenged T’Challa for the throne in Black Panther (2018), but lost the trial by combat. In a way this brings things full circle. Although he started out as an antagonist to the royal family, over time he has become one of their biggest allies. By the time Black Panther: Wakanda Forever begins, M’Baku is a respected member of Wakanda’s leadership, making him an ideal choice for king.
Breaking down Black Panther: Wakanda Forever mid-credits scene
Let’s break down the mid-credits scene that everyone will be talking about. While visiting Nakia in Haiti, Shuri is shocked to discover a secret T’Challa has hidden from her when Nakia introduces her son Toussaint. The boy appears to be somewhere between 5 and 8 years old, and yes, Nakia confirms that T’Challa was his father.
Nakia explains that both T’Challa and Queen Ramonda had known about the child, and agreed that it would be better if he grew up away from Wakanda. Nakia reveals that T’Challa helped prepare Toussaint for his death, which suggests that T’Challa was in Toussaint's life, even though Toussaint was being raised outside of Wakanda. Toussaint then reveals that his Wakandan name is T’Challa, like his father.
Toussaint’s age might raise some questions about the timeline of T’Challa and Nakia’s relationship, however it’s important to remember that the MCU had a five year time-skip between Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019). It’s likely that the child was conceived before T’Challa was snapped by Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War. This would allow T’Challa to have a child roughly Toussaint’s age when he returned in Avengers: Endgame.
T'Challa does have a son in the comics, but he’s a bit different from his MCU counterpart. Azari T’Challa was the son of T’Challa and Orono Munroe, who most people know as Storm of the X-Men. A few versions of the character have appeared in various multiverse and alternate universe stories and the animated film Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow. T’Challa also had a son named T’Chaka II in the MC2 continuity. Aside from being the sons of T’Challa, Azari and T’Chaka II don’t seem to have anything in common with young Toussaint.
What going on with Namor at the end of the movie?
Namor and his Talokanitol forces are defeated by Shuri after she becomes the new Black Panther. Instead of killing Namor, Shuri convinces the Talokan leader to agree to a ceasefire. Privately afterwards, Namor tells his cousin Namora that his surrender served a strategic purpose. Namor reasons that building a relationship with Wakanda will be better for the Talokanil in the long-term. Namor sees a war against the surface world as inevitable, and when that happens the alliance with Wakanda could prove useful. In other words, Namor might have lost this battle, but he’s playing the long game, and his plans for the surface world are just beginning.
Rise of the Midnight Angels
The film also saw some big changes for Okoye, leader of the Dora Milaje. Throughout the film we see Shuri working on a new suit of armor for the Dora Milaje, and Okoye isn’t thrilled about the design. After Okoye is forced by Queen Ramonda to turn in her spear and relinquish her role as the general of the Dora Milaje, Shuri convinces Okoye to don the armor, which she calls the Midnight Angels.
In Marvel Comics, the Midnight Angels are an elite strike-force within the Dora Milaje, and they wear armor similar to what was seen in the film. The group first appeared in the 2010 mini-series Doomwar, formed to take on Doctor Doom, who had stolen Wakanda’s Vibranium. The Midnight Angels were more than a match for the fearsome Doom, proving that they were a force to be taken seriously.
How Black Panther: Wakanda Forever sets up Ironheart
We finally get to see Riri Williams in action as Ironheart, and it was epic. In Wakanda Forever, Riri dons a battlesuit that she cobbled together herself after finding out that she, Shuri, and Okoye have been surrounded by law enforcement. Later on for the big battle between Wakanda and Talokan, she wears a battlesuit made of Vibranium. After the battle ends, Riri returns to her life as a M.I.T. student in America, but is told to leave her suit behind, since the people of Wakanda don’t want Vibranium falling into the wrong hands. However, that doesn’t mean we’ve seen the last of Ironheart. The suit doesn't make the hero, after all
Dominique Thorne will be reprising her role as Riri Williams for the television series Ironheart. The series will consist of six episodes and is expected to stream on Disney+ in late 2023. Since Riri left her Ironheart suit in Wakanda, she’ll need to start from scratch. Judging by the skills she displayed in this movie, that shouldn’t be too much of a problem. She doesn’t need Vibranium to recreate her Ironheart suit, and the film revealed she had blueprints for an Arc Reactor.
What’s next for Wakanda and the MCU?
Marvel Studios has big plans for Wakanda. It was recently reported that Proximity Media, the production company co-owned by Ryan Coogler, is developing multiple series based in Wakanda. One of these series will be the aforementioned Ironheart show on Disney+. Although the full scope of these potential projects is unknown, producer Nate Moore said that some ideas will be dealing with established characters, while others will feature new characters.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever certainly set up a lot of threads that could be explored in future MCU projects. Namor is planning to weaponize Wakanda against the surface world, M’Baku’s reign over the country is beginning, and Shuri is just getting to understand her powers and responsibility as Black Panther, not to mention her nephew T’Challa.
The world of Wakanda continues to grow, and, with the announcement card shown at the end of the film announcing that the Black Panther will return, it sounds like we have many visits to that exciting world ahead.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is now available for purchase and for streaming on Disney+.
Want more thoughts on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever? Check out Popverse's review of Marvel's Black Panther sequel.