Black Panther 2: How Wakanda Forever can take Marvel movies to the next level

Black Panther 2: How Wakanda Forever can take Marvel movies to the next level
(Image credit: Marvel)

We just learned more about Black Panther 2, to the delight of many — myself included. Yes, there’s no hiding it, with a truckload of comic books, action figures, and an awesome baseball jersey coming to my house in a few days — I am a Black Panther fan.

As you can imagine, it warmed my heart to see a title for the long-awaited sequel to Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The possibilities for the sequel are as bright and lustrous as the title art seen in the Marvel Studios Celebrates The Movies trailer.

And yet, it is important to remember things as they were the last time we saw Wakanda. No, not the flashback to the Winter Soldier’s deprogramming from “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.” Think Infinity War.

The last time we really saw Wakanda, the nation was in shambles after a war with Thanos and his minions. After a short-lived victory over the Black Order and the Outriders, everything had been lost — in a snap. But now, we're going back to Wakanda, and it's time to think about what could take place in Black Panther 2, especially since we won't have King T'Challa to drive the story. 

So where does the nation of Wakanda go from there? According to Marvel’s website the sequel will "continue to explore the incomparable world of Wakanda and all of the rich and varied characters introduced in the first film."

We know that Marvel Studios will not recast the role of T’Challa in the aftermath of Chadwick Boseman’s untimely passing. While we won’t see T’Challa again, that doesn’t mean the mantle of the Black Panther will go untaken.

A likely candidate is Shuri — T’Challa’s sister, played in the movies by Letitia Wright. Combine that with rumors that Namor might be the main villain of Black Panther II, and you get a great opportunity to reenact some fantastic fights from the comics (check out Black Panther Vol 5 issue 11). Adding fight scenes to Shuri’s technological greatness — comparable to the late, great Tony Stark — will add depth to an already compelling character.

Black Panther 2 — how will Letitia Wright, Danai Gurira, and Lupita Nyong'o's characters move forward?

Will one of Wakanda's powerful women take the title of Black Panther? (Image credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty)

Another unsung and ideologically compelling player in the Black Panther universe is Nakia. Long before T’Challa met with the United Nations to open up Wakanda’s resources to the world at the end of the first Black Panther movie, it was Nakia who criticized the nation’s isolationist approach. 

There’s certainly a story to tell about her background as a former member of the Dora Milaje and her spy background. Based on her history in the comic books, there’s also room for a heel turn — where she turns on her friends and allies. 

Another excellent Nakia storyline comes in Black Panther Vol. 3, No. 1, which just so happens to mark the first appearances of the Dora Milaje, Okoye and Zuri. It also brings Nakia to the series, starting a chain of events that will eventually lead to her becoming Malice, a thorn in the side of T’Challa (and his significant others).

Black Panther 2 Michael B. Jordan

(Image credit: Marvel Studios/Disney Plus)

“Malice has significant backstories with two of T’Challa’s rivals — Erik Killmonger and Man-Ape, or more familiarly, M’Baku. Despite Killmonger’s apparent death in the first movie, fans of the comics are familiar with Michael B. Jordan’s character and his Resurrection Altar. Killmonger once used the altar to revive Nakia after she was tortured, and gained enhanced abilities during the process. If Killmonger actually (somehow) comes back, there's a built-in storyline for his return.

And then there is M'Baku, known as Man-Ape, in the comics. We’ve seen Lupita N’yongo and Winston Duke team up on the silver screen before. If one particular storyline is a guide, we could see the evil incarnation of N’yongo’s character and the leader of the Jabari tribe come together in a way that would shock audiences. During a series of efforts in the comics to attack T’Challa and his family, Malice freed Man-Ape in a plot to kidnap Queen Mother Ramonda. There’s also a series in the comics, literally named “Wakanda Forever,” that includes Nakia, Ayo of “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” fame and Secretary Everett Ross.

In centering only two characters’ stories, there is a way to incorporate so many of the aforementioned “rich and varied” characters. And yet, I can’t but help to think about the dialogue that opened up the original movie:

Young Killmonger: Baba...

N'Jobu: Yes, my son.

Young Killmonger: Tell me a story.

N'Jobu: Which one?

Young Killmonger: The story of home.

N'Jobu then tells young Killmonger about the history of a vibranium meteorite crashing from the skies, and leading to the founding of Wakanda. And if we are to see why Wakanda is forever, we may in fact see more of how it was founded, and became the fractured society it was at the start of the first Black Panther movie.

Black Panther 2: Wakanda Forever

How will Wakanda stay strong forever? (Image credit: Marvel)

Talking about the characters from the first movie only scratches the surface of this sub-saharan nation unfettered by colonialism. In describing the world of Wakanda, one must explore the meteoric rock of ages that changed the country forever. Sure, we saw the towering architecture and genius weaponry. But what about the origins of vibranium in Wakanda? Could such a story be a callback to the return of Klaw?

And beyond vibranium, there’s so much to be told about Wakanda’s traditions and government. There’s a period of time before the meteorite hit Africa that is acknowledged as “Old Wakanda.” That period was reigned by The Originators, a species of mythical beasts. What the vibranium meteorite heralded was a conflict between mortal men and gods — a beautiful mythology just waiting to be explored on screen.

Whichever way Marvel Studios and Ryan Coogler decide to go with the sequel, I firmly believe it will be glorious and long overdue. Whether the story chooses to explore Wakanda’s independence, its ideologies or its constant threat of invasion, it will undoubtedly present a compelling story that will resonate for years to come.

Ken Makin

Ken J. Makin is a tech and entertainment writer for Tom’s Guide, and has nearly 20 years of experience as a journalist. He’s an avid podcaster and freelancer for various sites, including ESPN’s The Undefeated and The Christian Science Monitor. When he’s not podding or writing, Ken is likely spending time with his wife and children.