Amid the grief and loss sparked by the death of Chadwick Boseman, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has to answer who will take over the mantle of T'Challa in the MCU sequel.
Director Ryan Coogler has already confirmed Marvel would not replace him as T’Challa. The MCU will press on with a Black Panther baring its claws, however. The first Black Panther 2 trailer featured a mystery figure wearing the iconic suit. The updated costume has new gold accents and panther heads embossed into its arms and the second trailer intensified the speculation further by providing a better look at the new suit. Although, the big question remains – who is under it?
Well, we’ve combed the comics, taken a deep dive into every frame of the trailer, and checked out what the actors have to say to try and work this out. So read on for our comprehensive guide to who could be the next Black Panther.
Who is the next Black Panther?
Will Shuri be the next Black Panther?
The most likely candidate to become Black Panther is T’Challa’s little sister Shuri. The Black Panther mantle is traditionally handed down through generations, so as the next in line to the throne, it makes sense Shuri would be the favorite for the role.
As well as this, there is precedent in the comic books where Shuri once took over when T’Challa was injured. She also certainly has the intellect as a tech whizz, which means she’d be very capable of altering the suit for her specifications too.
If that wasn’t enough, fans also spotted a clue on the Black Panther costume in the trailer. If you zoom in, you can see what looks like a panther with teeth encircling the arm. The detail is noticeably similar to Shuri’s Vibranium Gauntlets in the first movie.
On top of that, the new look at the fresh Black Panther suit features marking similar to Shuri's own face markings. At the very least, it appears to narrow it down to a female in the suit.
The final bit of evidence in Shuri's favor comes from some merchandising hints. A series of leaked toy sets for Black Panther 2 featured Shuri wearing a very similar costume.
Perhaps the only thing working against the Wakandan is her age, which means she doesn’t have the same battle and leadership knowledge as the other characters in the running. Therefore, expect a lot of character development in Wakanda Forever if Shuri is to become the superhero.
Of course, actor Letitia Wright is playing her cards close to her chest about the potential twist. Directly asked if she was the one wearing the suit in the trailer by MTV News at SDCC (opens in new tab), she responded: "I don’t know what you’re talking about, but [on] November 11, you get your ticket."
Will Okoye be the next Black Panther?
Wakadan general Okoye is also a potential candidate for the role, given her prowess on the battlefield. Danai Gurira’s badass warrior is one of the best fighters the country of Wakanda has ever had, thus making her a perfect choice to become Black Panther. She’d also have the backing of the Dora Milaje behind her, who proved their metal in the Avengers: Endgame battle for Earth.
We know Okoye has an important part in the future of the Black Panther franchise. Gurira will be reprising the role in a spin-off series for Disney Plus helmed by Coogler. It will take place in the Kingdom of Wakanda, but no more details are confirmed yet – could this be an exploration of her grappling with being the new Black Panther?
Will Nakia be the next Black Panther?
Lupita Nyong’o’s Nakia could also be the one to take over T’Challa’s position. In the first movie, she proved herself a fearsome warrior as well as having all the attributes to make a great Queen of Wakanda.
And if that’s not enough in her favor, Nyong’o’s star power could be enough to push her into the limelight. With an Oscar under her belt and a series of leading roles in Us, The 355, and 12 Years a Slave, it would make perfect sense for her to be the next MCU star. Of course, this is all provided Marvel doesn’t choose to follow the comics storyline for Nakia, which sees her become a foe to Black Panther…
Will M'Baku be the next Black Panther?
A natural leader, M’Baku is another obvious candidate for the role. Winston Duke’s ally to Wakanda has all the skill T’Challa did as a ruler, as well as being a deft warrior and a wise leader for his people. Duke has also teased that he’ll have a bigger role in the Black Panther sequel.
"Now we get to see how he figures out a brand-new world for Wakanda; a brand-new world like we've had to experience," he told Screen Rant (opens in new tab). "A world post-COVID; a world post-pandemic or mid-pandemic. Much like us, he's going through a lot of the same things and figuring out how to move forward. This movie really deals and dives into that a lot."
The only potential quandary is how in the trailers, the new Black Panther does seem to have a leaner figure than Duke’s muscular build. Of course, this could be Marvel trying to throw us off the scent. It wouldn’t be the first time they’ve tricked us into thinking one thing in a trailer, before turning it on its head. Watch this space.
Will Queen Ramonda be the next Black Panther?
Angela Bassett’s Queen Ramonda is one of the most fearsome characters in Wakanda. And the trailer for Black Panther 2 shows she’ll have a huge role in governing the country in the wake of T’Challa’s death. So could she also become the new Black Panther?
Just like Shuri, she does have a claim to the role as T’Challa’s mother and the actor has hinted (opens in new tab) she has some fight scenes in the sequel. So while it might be a long shot, it’s certainly possible she could be the chosen successor.
Will Killmonger be the next Black Panther?
Okay bear with us, we know that Erik Killmonger was killed in the first movie. But this is Marvel! It would not be the first time a character has been brought back from the dead. Michael B. Jordan’s villain was one of the stand-out characters in the original movie, so it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if he made a return. And if Killmonger does come back, becoming Black Panther would be a stellar redemptive arc.
One major piece of evidence it could be him are the gold accents in the new suit. These look reminiscent of Killmonger’s Golden Jaguar suit in the first Black Panther. There have also been countless rumors that Jordan could be returning to Wakanda ever since the movie was first announced. Stranger things have happened in the MCU…
Will a new character be the next Black Panther?
It’s possible a new actor could be joining the series as Black Panther. While very few new cast members have been announced, the Black Panther comics featured a run with a New York City cop Kasper Cole as the superhero. He is one of the few outside of the royal family to have worn the habit, after stealing it to build his way up in the NYPD.
I May Destroy You's Michaela Coel is another potential candidate after news emerged she had joined the movie. She'll play Aneka, who in the comics is a fearsome warrior. She is the combat instructor of the Dora Milaje – the Black Panther's personal bodyguards. Given Coel's star power, it's highly possible she could take on a major role in the future of the MCU.
Black Panther 2 is released on November 11, 2022. While you wait, check out our guide to all of the new superhero movies also scheduled over the next few years.