Black Panther: Wakanda Forever ending explained: your biggest questions answered

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
(Image credit: Disney/Marvel)

Now that Marvel's final Phase 4 film has landed on Disney Plus, there's never been a better time to dissect the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever ending. Not only does it tie up some impressive story arcs, it's also jam-packed full of action as well. 

Considering it's the second-longest Marvel movie, it's not a surprise that Black Panther 2 packs in the twists, turns, and huge plot developments across its almost three hours. Plus, it introduces major new characters and locations to the MCU, too, so there's a lot to take in – along with the new Black Panther and all the emotional ways the movie pays tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman, too. 

So, with all that going on, you'd be forgiven if you were still slightly confused on a few points. Well, don't worry, we've got you covered. We've got a full plot synopsis below, along with a breakdown of all the burning questions you're likely to have on the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever ending. Of course, there are MAJOR Black Panther 2 spoilers ahead, so read on at your own risk... 

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever ending explained 

The movie picks up with Shuri rushing to find a cure for her brother T'Challa, who is dying from an unknown illness. She attempts to create a synthetic Heart-Shaped Herb, but nothing she tries works. Queen Ramonda then enters the lab and tells Shuri that T'Challa has died. All of Wakanda shows up for his funeral and T'Challa is laid to rest. 

One year later, the UN is disappointed that Wakanda is not cooperating by sharing its Vibranium. Ramonda doesn't want to trade the precious material because she doesn't trust the rest of the world; as she speaks, we see flashbacks to an attack on a Wakandan outreach center, with mercenaries looking for Vibranium. The Dora Milaje fend them off, and it's revealed that the mercenaries were actually from UN member state France. Ramonda says any further attacks will be considered an act of aggression.

Meanwhile, in the Atlantic ocean, the US is deep diving for Vibranium and discovers it under the sea – but they're attacked and stopped by Namor and the Talokanils. 

Back in Wakanda, Ramonda and Shuri go out into nature together to process their grief, but Shuri doesn't want to burn her mourning clothes. Ramonda is about to tell Shuri something important about T'Challa when there's a disturbance – enter Namor. He asks for Wakanda's help, explaining the American military has found Vibranium under his kingdom and T'Challa's decision to expose Wakanda's secret has put his own nation of Talokan under threat. Namor says he wants the scientist who created the Vibranium detecting device and tells Ramonda and Shuri that they must keep his existence a secret. He subtly threatens to return with his armies, then leaves a shell behind that Ramonda and Shuri can use to contact him. 

Shuri and Okoye go to America to get answers from Everett Ross, who points them in the direction of the scientist. She turns out to be Riri Williams, a young genius studying at MIT. The FBI are hot on her trail, though, and Shuri, Okoye, and Riri flee the dorm to a warehouse Riri has nearby. There, she has an Iron Man suit of her own, which she uses to escape the FBI. The Talokanil intervene, though – they're after Riri. Shuri saves Riri by requesting to be taken to Talokan with her.

At the scene, Ross finds Shuri's communicator beads and hides them, and it's revealed that none other than Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine is the new director of the CIA… and Ross's ex-wife. 

Okoye returns to Wakanda and reports back to Ramonda, who strips her of her rank for putting Shuri in danger. Ramonda then travels to Haiti to find Nakia and asks her to locate Shuri. 

Down in Talokan, Shuri is taken to meet with Namor, who tells her his history. His people were forced to live in the ocean after conquistadors in the 1500s brought smallpox to them. They got their water-breathing abilities from a plant – Namor's mother ingested the plant while she was pregnant, which is why he was born with ankle wings and pointy ears. "I was a mutant," he tells Shuri. But, Namor's mother missed the land so much she died of a broken heart. When Namor went back to the surface to bury her, he saw the people there enslaved. He and the Talokanils attacked, and a priest called Namor "el niño sin amor" (the child without love), which he shortened to Namor. He took the name because he has no love for the surface world. Namor gives Shuri a tour of Talokan and tells her he has to protect it. 

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Later, Namor gives Shuri his mother's bracelet, made from the plant that saved his people. Shuri tells him that T'Challa suffered silently, and by the time he asked for her help, it was too late. The Wakandan princess says she can't let Namor kill Riri, but Namor counters that the surface conquers and enslaves people like him, and the Vibranium-detecting machine is a sign that the surface is coming for Talokan; he wants an alliance, believing that the world wishes to invade Wakanda. He warns that if he attacks, Wakanda will fall. 

Ramonda then meets with Namor. The Talokanil ruler tells Ramonda that Shuri went willingly and will remain under the sea – Ramonda ultimately threatens to expose Talokan to the US if her daughter isn't returned, and Namor says he'll kill Shuri and Ramonda both if she does that, or if he sees anyone from Wakanda in his kingdom. 

But Nakia has already infiltrated Talokan to rescue Shuri. The Talokanil almost kill the princess, but Nakia kills them first. Shuri knows this means war – and, as she predicts, when Namor finds his people dying, he says he'll stop Wakanda. 

The Talokanil attack. Namor goes for Ramonda and sends a water bomb into the throne room, which completely submerges the queen and Riri. Ramonda rescues Riri but is beyond saving by the time help arrives – she drowns. Namor warns that he'll return in a week with his entire army and Wakanda can either join his fight against the surface or be washed away. 

Shuri has a heartfelt conversation with M'Baku at Ramonda's funeral. She then gets to work synthesizing a new Heart-Shaped Herb, correctly deducing that the plant woven into the bracelet Namor gave her could help, as it was grown in Vibranium-rich soil. She combines it with T'Challa's DNA and successfully creates a new Herb. When Shuri takes the Herb, she wakes up in the Ancestral Plane and sees Killmonger, who asks if she'll be noble like T'Challa, who let his father's murderer  live, or "take care of business" like Killmonger. 

Shuri then arrives in Jabari Land in her own Black Panther suit – M'Baku challenges her to an arm wrestle, but she wins thanks to her new super strength. "The Black Panther lives!" M'Baku declares. He warns that killing Namor will start an eternal war, which isn't what Ramonda would want. Shuri, though, wants Namor dead, pointing out that Ramonda is gone. 

Talokan and Wakanda meet in another battle, this time at sea. Riri wears a new, high-tech super suit and fights Namor in the air. Riri and Shuri trap Namor in a ship and turn up the heat to dry him out, which weakens him. He starts breaking free, though, and Shuri crashes the ship in the desert. Shuri cuts off one of Namor's ankle wings in the fight, but he stabs her through the stomach. That seems to be the tragic end of it, but as Namor heads for the water, Shuri thinks of Killmonger in the Ancestral Plane and tells him she'll kill Namor. 

The new Black Panther goes after Namor again and sets off an explosion, which seriously hurts Namor but doesn't kill him. Before Shuri can land the final blow, she sees Ramonda in the Ancestral Plane. "Show him who you are," Ramonda says. Shuri then tells Namor to yield, as vengeance has consumed them – it can't consume their people too. Namor yields. Together, they go to the battle and Namor tells everyone that the fight is done. 

Sometime later, Wakanda has recovered from the attack and Shuri has planted more of the Heart-Shaped Herb. She confiscates Riri's suit, but says she's sorted out the FBI situation for her so Riri can go home to the US. M'Baku becomes the King of Wakanda.

In Talokan, Namora tells Namor that she doesn't like him yielding to Wakanda, but he points out that, when the world turns on Wakanda, Shuri will now go to Talokan for aid – implying they can still have their war on the surface. Okoye rescues Ross from being arrested; Val caught him communicating with Wakanda earlier in the movie. 

Shuri goes to live with Nakia in Haiti and burns her mourning clothes on the beach, thinking of her brother. In the mid-credits scene, Nakia reveals to Shuri that she and T'Challa had a son. They had agreed that it would be better for him to grow up away from the throne and Nakia says T'Challa didn't want his son at the funeral. There's no post-credits scene, but text does appear saying Black Panther will return. 

Who is the new Black Panther?

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

(Image credit: Disney/Marvel)

The next Black Panther is none other than Shuri, T'Challa's younger sister. She decides to synthesize a new Heart-Shaped Herb and take on the mantle of Black Panther following Ramonda's death. She uses T'Challa's DNA and the bracelet that Namor gave her, which contains the plant grown in Vibranium-rich soil. Taking the Herb gives Shuri super strength and speed, and she has her own suit. 

How does T'Challa die in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever?

Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther

(Image credit: Disney/Marvel)

T'Challa's cause of death isn't revealed. All we know is that he died of an illness that he kept concealed from Shuri for some time, but prepared Nakia and their son for his loss. Heartbreakingly, this mirrors the death of Chadwick Boseman from cancer

How does Killmonger return?

Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger in Black Panther

(Image credit: Disney/Marvel)

While Erik Killmonger returns from Black Panther, he hasn't actually been resurrected. He's in the Ancestral Plane when Shuri visits after taking the Heart-Shaped Herb; Killmonger and Shuri are cousins. 

As for why he shows up, it's because Shuri is set on getting revenge for Ramonda's death by killing Namor. This is more in line with Killmonger than T'Challa – as Killmonger points out, T'Challa spared the man who killed his father (Zemo, as seen in Captain America: Civil War). Shuri, consumed by vengeance, says she's nothing like her brother: but all she needs is a few words from Ramonda and she gives up on her revenge. 

Who is Riri Williams? 

Riri Williams in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Riri is a young genius studying at MIT. She creates a device that can detect Vibranium as a school project, but it ends up being used by the US military in the hunt for more of the precious material, which disturbs Talokan. Riri has also built her own Iron Man suit – something she has done in the comics, too, going on to take the superhero name Ironheart. Dominique Thorne's Riri will soon be starring in her own Disney Plus show, which is called (you guessed it) Ironheart. 

Is Namor a mutant? Does that make him part of X-Men? 

Namor in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Namor calls himself a mutant in the movie – but is this the same kind of mutant as the X-Men? In the comics, he carries the X-gene, but in the movie, he gets his mutation from a plant ingested by his mother while she was pregnant. Until the X-Men make their MCU debut, we probably won't know for sure if Namor also carries the X-gene. His mutant status also explains why he's the only Talokanil who doesn't turn blue on the surface, and it's also why he has his ankle wings and pointy ears. 

Why does Shuri spare Namor? Is he still a villain?

Black Panther 2 trailer

(Image credit: Marvel)

Shuri sides against killing Namor for a number of reasons. As M'Baku warns, killing the ruler of Talokan could cause a permanent war between the underwater nation and Wakanda, as Talokan looks to Namor as the god K'uk'ulkan – the Feathered Serpent god worshipped in Mesoamerica culture, including by the Yucatec Maya people. 

Then there's Shuri's experience in the Ancestral Plane – she sees Killmonger, who says Shuri can either be like her brother T'Challa and spare Namor, or be like him by killing the Talokanil king. Shuri is all in on revenge until she's set to strike the killing blow: she sees the major events of the movie play in reverse, as if to demonstrate that killing Namor can't undo what's happened, and she remembers seeing the people of Talokan and the things Namor told her about his mother. She then sees her own mother Ramonda. The queen says, "Show him who you are," and Shuri then tells Namor to yield. 

As it turns out, despite what Shuri tells Killmonger, she is just like her brother – she tells Namor, "Vengeance has consumed us. We cannot let it consume our people." That's a direct echo of T'Challa's words to Zemo in Civil War: "Vengeance has consumed you. It's consuming them. I'm done letting it consume me." 

As for Namor, the movie ends with him telling Namora that yielding to Shuri has made Talokan stronger than ever. He reasons that, when the rest of the world turns on Wakanda – for its Vibranium and since the US wants to strike against them, mistakenly believing Wakanda to be behind the attack on the diving expedition and what happened in Massachusetts – Shuri will turn to Talokan for help, hinting that he still wants a war with the surface world. For now, though, it seems Namor and Talokan will be allies to Wakanda (though, probably uneasy allies, considering Namor killed Queen Ramonda and attacked the country).  

What does Imperius Rex mean? 

Tenoch Huerta as Namor in Black Panther 2

(Image credit: Disney/Marvel)

When Shuri and Namor face-off, still intent on fighting to the death, Namor says "Imperius Rex" in his own language. But what does it mean? It's his catchphrase and battle cry from Marvel comics, but it's never been given an official explanation, and doesn't really translate into English – though "Rex" means "king" in Latin, and the Latin word "imperiosus" translates to "powerful." 

What is the Talokanil battle cry and what does it mean?

Talokan in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

(Image credit: Disney/Marvel)

The Talokanil say "¡Líik'ik Talokan!" throughout the movie, in a similar way to the Wakandans' own "Wakanda Forever!" Nattuma actor Alex Livinalli has revealed the origin of the phrase. 

"That was not part of the original script," he explained to CinemaBlend. "It was a consensus thing, that we were like, the Black Panther, they have 'Wakanda Forever' and it's so powerful, it means so much. And we're like, 'We're pretty similar to Wakandans, we need something.' So, after a conversation with the language instructor, we came up with 'Talokan Rises,' which is 'Líik'ik Talokan,' which is like 'Yeah, we're here. This is our mantra,' so to speak."

What is the plant that saves the Talokanil? 

Mabel Cadena as Namora in Black Panther 2

(Image credit: Disney/Marvel)

In 1571 AD, after conquistadors took smallpox to the Yucatán Peninsula, the people there turned to the god of rain and abundance for help. Their shaman was given a vision that led him to a plant growing from a blue rock in Vibranium-rich soil, which, when ingested, turned them from air-breathers to water-breathers. Namor's mother was pregnant with him at the time and feared what the plant would do to her baby, but was persuaded to take the plant anyway. Because of the plant, Namor was born with pointy ears and wings on his ankles, and also seems to age very slowly. 

How does Shuri create a new Heart-Shaped Herb?

Okoye and Shuri in Black Panther 2

(Image credit: Disney/Marvel)

Namor gives Shuri a bracelet that belonged to his mother, which contains the plant that turned his people into water-breathers. Since the plant was grown in Vibranium-rich soil, Shuri uses it to synthesize a new Heart-Shaped Herb. She combines it with T'Challa's DNA in the lab, since he had consumed the Herb before his death. Shuri successfully recreates the Herb in the lab, then plants more by the end of the movie. 

How does Shuri survive being stabbed?

Shuri in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Shuri gets a vicious wound during the final battle with Namor – the Talokanil ruler drives his spear all the way through the new Black Panther, and it looks like she should be dead. But, she's able to pull herself off the spear in a particularly wince-inducing manoeuvre. So how does she survive? It's not explained in the movie, but it's possible the Heart-Shaped Herb's healing properties keep her from death. Plus, if you look closely, the suit seals itself up over the wound, which should stop it from getting any worse as Shuri finishes the fight. 

Who is Aneka? 

Aneka in Black Panther 2

(Image credit: Disney/Marvel)

Aneka, played by I May Destroy You's Michaela Coel, is a member of the Dora Milaje. She's introduced in Wakanda Forever. In the comics, Aneka is a member of the Midnight Angels and is in a relationship with Ayo – a quick moment at the end of Wakanda Forever confirms the pair are together in the MCU, too. 

What are the Midnight Angels?

Okoye in Black Panther 2

(Image credit: Disney/Marvel)

Shuri creates a new, high-tech suit in the movie worn by Aneka and a reluctant Okoye. The princess calls the design the Midnight Angel – in the comics, the Midnight Angels are an elite branch of the Dora Milaje, and Aneka is a member of their ranks. 

Is M'Baku King of Wakanda now?

M'Baku in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever trailer

(Image credit: Marvel)

Shuri does not show up to the ceremony that would make her Queen of Wakanda. Instead, M'Baku appears and says he wishes to challenge for the throne. Considering we don't see anyone else go up against him, we can assume M'Baku takes over as king. 

Instead of ruling Wakanda, Shuri goes to Haiti to live with Nakia. Why she does this isn't explained, but Shuri goes through a lot in the movie, and ruling her country would probably be a permanent reminder of all that she's lost. Shuri remains the Black Panther, though – and as the text at the end of the movie says, she will return.  

Who is Val? What does her appearance mean?

Black Widow post-credits

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Julia Louis-Dreyfus' Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, or simply Val, was first introduced in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. She also appeared in the Black Widow post-credits scene, sending Yelena off to hunt down Hawkeye. In Wakanda Forever, it's revealed that Val is the new director of the CIA (and Everett Ross' ex-wife, strangely enough). 

Since her first appearance, Val has been setting up the Thunderbolts, who'll get their own movie in Marvel Phase 5. No mention of this team of anti-heroes/reformed villains is made in Wakanda Forever, but the revelation that Val is in charge of the CIA will most likely have repercussions for the Thunderbolts – though what exactly that means is a mystery for now. At the very least, they'll probably be government-sanctioned, as Val is now a very powerful figure within the MCU.

What happens in the post-credits scenes?

Lupita Nyong'o as Nakia in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

(Image credit: Disney/Marvel)

There's only one Black Panther: Wakanda Forever post-credits scene. It sees Nakia and a young boy join Shuri on the beach, where she has been mourning her brother T'Challa. Nakia reveals that the youngster is her and T'Challa's son, which Ramonda knew about – this is what the queen meant to tell Shuri by the water before they were interrupted by Namor's arrival. 

Nakia explains that she and T'Challa agreed that their son Toussaint should grow up away from the pressure of the throne. T'Challa prepared them both for his death but didn't want them to go to the funeral as the time wasn't right. T'Challa's son then declares that he is "Prince T'Challa, son of King T'Challa." It is presumably this secret – that T'Challa has a son – that Romana almost told Shuri about before being interrupted by Namor earlier in the movie.

Who is T'Challa's son? Is he from the comics?

Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther

(Image credit: Disney/Marvel)

In the movie, T'Challa's son is also named T'Challa, though Nakia calls him by the different name Toussaint, too. In Marvel comics, T'Challa has a son with Storm on an alternate earth, who is named Azari. It doesn't seem that this is the same character as T'Challa's son in the MCU, then.  

Will there be a Black Panther 3?

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

While the post-credits text confirms that Black Panther will return, it's unclear when exactly that will happen. Black Panther 3 has been confirmed just yet, but we could see Shuri again in Avengers: The Kang Dynasty or Avengers: Secret Wars

"We really want to see how audiences receive the film, and I think Ryan [Coogler, director]'s really interested to see how the film plays before we decide," producer Nate Moore told Collider of a follow-up. "There are certainly ideas we've floated around of what a third film could be if we get to make it. But until the movie comes out, we're a bit superstitious in that way. We don't want to count our chickens, because you never know what's going to happen."

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Molly Edwards
Entertainment Writer

I'm an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering all things film and TV for the site's Total Film and SFX sections. I previously worked on the Disney magazines team at Immediate Media, and also wrote on the CBeebies, MEGA!, and Star Wars Galaxy titles after graduating with a BA in English.