Who Is Going To Be Black Panther In ‘Wakanda Forever’? Here’s Our Predictions

zo Zo is a staff writer at Okayplayer where he covers…
Every Character That Could Be The Next Black Panther in 'Wakanda Forever'
Source: Marvel Studios

A few weeks out from the release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and fans still don’t know who will be picking up the mantle of Wakanda’s king and protector in the wake of Chadwick Boseman’s death.

It’s tragic to even consider, but the title of Black Panther is about to be passed on in the MCU. It’s not a choice Ryan Coogler made lightly, as he readied the sequel for a blockbuster franchise starter to Chadwick Boseman, who died of colon cancer in 2020. But out of respect for Boseman’s legacy on and off the screen, Coogler opted not to recast the role, despite a swelling demand and an online campaign led by fans.

In the absence of Boseman, Wakanda Forever, the incoming follow-up to Black Panther (and closer to Marvel’s “Phase 4”) is tasked with the impossible. There’s the resolution of the current MCU act, a requisite tribute to — and celebration of  — Boseman and, given the MCU’s long-game, picking the right fill-in(s) for taking on the Black Panther mantle. After all, whoever dons the vibranium suit and mask will become a central figure in subsequent chapters of Marvel’s multiversal madness, as well as whatever version of The Avengers comes next.

There isn’t exactly a predictable answer secretly stitched into the events of Black Panther, or anything that’s happened in the MCU since. All we do know is that the character who takes up the role will be arriving to a Wakanda in mourning, divided, and left to appoint a new figurehead. If nothing else, we can assume that much of the film will be about how the country heals from the loss of their champion (or doesn’t), and deliberates a fitting successor.

Frankly (and respectfully, of course), a number of Wakandans would make fierce heirs to the late king. Having to face one so soon is an insanely sad reality, but seeing someone else in the suit isn’t exactly without precedent. In the MCU, T’Challa is one of three Black Panthers we see just in the first film. In the comics, dozens of characters with no tie to the bloodline have filled in as the country’s sacred protector (with and without a slug of the heart-shaped herb) including Captain America, Venom, and T’Challa’s mutant weather goddess wife, Ororo “Storm” Monroe.

In preparation for the big reveal in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, we hit the books to come up with five legitimate candidates for the next Black Panther who are already in the MCU, and don’t require a wild narrative recalibration. Some of these may seem like long shots (and honestly, they are), but the most technologically advanced country in the world isn’t short on powerhouse warriors with the potential to lead a nation.

Watch the trailer for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever below. See it in theaters on November 11th and pre-order your tickets today.

Every Character That Could Be The Next Black Panther in 'Wakanda Forever'

Source: Marvel Studios

Killmonger

Alright, alright. Hear me out. While it can be reasonably assumed Michael B. Jordan’s sympathetic anti-hero-turned-full-on-villain did, in fact, die at the end of the first Black Panther, there’s still a chance we see T’Challa’s estranged cousin in some shape or form in Wakanda Forever. Whether it’s as the country’s resurrected and redeemed protector, or as a lost spirit in the ethereal plane, Killmonger’s second coming wouldn’t be as crazy as it may seem. Let’s not forget, T’Challa himself was borderline shocked back into existence during Black Panther. Also, Killmonger is technically still part of some branch of the MCU, based on a prominent appearance in the animated series What If?. Given the whole reality-bending nature of the MCU, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see him on the screen again.

Every Character That Could Be The Next Black Panther in 'Wakanda Forever

Source: Marvel Studios

M’Baku

Though he certainly had some beef with Wakanda’s presumed heir (Shuri), the leader of the Jabari tribe shouldn’t be overlooked in the trials for the next Black Panther. Initially introduced as an adversarial figure, Winston Duke’s M’Baku endeared himself to the throne (after challenging the Black Panther for it) by joining forces with T’Challa against Killmonger, and later, Thanos in Endgame. It’s also worth noting, unlike the previous Black Panther, M’Baku walked away from the snap. That might feel like a minor detail but if you think about it, we know almost nothing about post-blip Wakanda, or how it navigated the sudden disappearance of its figurehead. In the time since, M’Baku may have become a local hero revered for backing their leader (and surviving) during the royal rumble with the Mad Titan. This would ostensibly make him a decent candidate, at the very least.

Every Character That Could Be The Next Black Panther in 'Wakanda Forever'

Source: Marvel Studios

Okoye

If passing the Black Panther title came down to who kicks the most ass the fastest, we wouldn’t have to think too hard about a logical successor. As the leader of the throne’s private security force, Okoye is one of Wakanda’s most decorated warriors, and is arguably the most qualified character to take up the battle-ready side of the Black Panther’s duties. However, as the sworn protector of the protector, there’s a hard call both she and the nation would have to make in order to install her as T’Challa’s successor. Still, it wouldn’t be too beyond the pale to see Okoye don the vibranium garb as a transitional Black Panther, while Wakanda sorts out a proper and more permanent solution.

Every Character That Could Be The Next Black Panther in 'Wakanda Forever'

Source: Marvel Studios

Nakia

A stately, poised, and deceptively sharp fighter, T’Challa’s widow could be one of the Black Panthers we see in Wakanda Forever. If you’re doubting Nakia’s chops, recall her time in the Wakandan secret police force The War Dogs, in which she smoothed over outside threats to the country, and acted as a clandestine informant to the throne on worldly affairs that could undermine Wakanda’s international goals. In the absence of her late husband, the country will no doubt be in search of a familiar and stabilizing presence to head diplomatic efforts. Who better to take on the governmental functions of the position than the woman who convinced Wakanda’s late leader to end its era of isolationism, and embrace building relationships with other global (and supernatural) powers?

Every Character That Could Be The Next Black Panther in 'Wakanda Forever'

Source: Marvel Studios

Shuri

Finally, the most logical (and likely) fill-in for the late T’Challa is none other than his little sister. Not only is Shuri next of kin in T’Challa’s family, but she’s also one of the MCU’s most elite brains, holding the key to Wakanda remaining a technological powerhouse in the global community. That said, the role requires equal parts intellect and battle savvy. Alhough Shuri demonstrated some aptitude in her fight with Killmonger, she’s definitely a little green in regards to the latter. Don’t get us wrong — Shuri would make a stellar and astute new Black Panther as is. It’s just Wakanda appears to be down bad. Hurt, broken, and completely severed from the heart-shaped herb, the country will face a number of hurdles before it has healed enough to even internally function. In the comics, Shuri’s reign is catalyzed by T’Challa being gravely injured during an attack from Doom during the DOOMWARS arc of the Dark Reign event. As it stands, the MCU doesn’t currently have the roster to support a strict adaptation. But it would certainly raise the magnitude of her role (and well, everything) by several orders, if the original Metal Faced Villain factors in to the turmoil by the end of Wakanda Forever.

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