This article contains Black Panther: Wakanda Forever spoilers.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever begins with the unexpected, shocking (and offscreen) death of Wakanda’s King T’Challa, victim of an unspecified disease that even his brilliant scientist sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) could not stop. It’s a harrowing, relatively brief prologue to the film that, of course, reflects the real-life 2020 passing of Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman.
T’Challa’s death seemingly leaves Wakanda, now ruled by T’Challa and Shuri’s mother, Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), vulnerable, especially since no one is stepping up right away to take on the mantle of the country’s protector: the Black Panther. So the other nations of the world, including the U.S. and France, conspire to find ways to obtain the vibranium that only exists under Wakanda’s soil.
But there is another player on the field via the undersea kingdom of Talokan, ruled by the superpowered mutant Namor (Tenoch Huerta). The sea dwellers make contact with Wakanda after hiding from the rest of the world for generations. Talokan, it seems, is also sitting on a deposit of vibranium of its own, which was detected by a device invented by an MIT student named Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne).
Namor’s request to Queen Ramonda and Shuri is simple: He wants Wakandan operatives to kidnap Riri and turn her over to Talokan for execution so that her vibranium detector cannot be duplicated. He also threatens Wakanda with war should the nation reveal the existence of Talokan. It is the gauntlet that Namor throws down, and the events that unfold from it form the bulk of the narrative in Wakanda Forever, leading inevitably to open war between these two unique, advanced civilizations.
By the movie’s end, Queen Ramonda is dead, many Wakandan and Talokani soldiers are dead… yet, curiously, neither kingdom is in open hostility toward the other. Shuri ultimately spares the life of Namor, the man who killed her mother in order to extract a pledge of peace from the underwater king. More surprising still, Shuri (aka the new Black Panther) learns she is not the last of her family’s line when, during a mid-credits scene, she discovers her late brother and the Wakandan spy Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) have a son… a new Prince T’Challa.
All of which raises a lot of questions about the future for this franchise and the MCU as a whole…
Where Does Wakanda Go From Here?
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever marks the end of Phase 4 in the MCU, and while there has been no shortage of debate over whether this particular stretch of movies and TV series was up to par with the first three phases, producer Nate Moore says that closing out Phase 4 with this particular film sets up a lot of things for the already announced (but still incomplete) Phases 5 and 6.
“Phase 4 to me is a lot about loss and renewal,” Moore explains. “And not only saying goodbye to some things that we love but also introducing great things that will have big ripples for years to come. And when you think about not only the new Black Panther, but the world of Talokan and Namor now being introduced and taking a step forward, and Riri Williams, there’s a lot of big concepts in this movie that I think are going to have a ripple effect as we tell the larger multiverse narrative.”
Certainly, for the immediate future, meaning Phase 5, it seems as if the geopolitical implications of the new alliance between Wakanda and Talokan could have an impact on the events of upcoming films like Captain America: New World Order and Thunderbolts.
“Potentially,” says Moore when asked if that could be the case. “And also the position Wakanda now sits within the world. I think that’s the other interesting thing about this movie—the notion that by opening up its borders a bit and by trading vibranium a bit, all of a sudden Wakanda finds itself in a different position on the world stage. I think there’s going to be ramifications for that decision.”
Also, while we did not broach the prospect with Moore, we feel like it would be almost inevitable for Shuri and/or Wakanda to eventually have a public reaction about how the new Captain America collaborated with the freed Zemo (Daniel Brühl), who was liberated from prison after murdering Shuri’s father and the former King of Wakanda. While there were some hints at the conclusion of Falcon and the Winter Soldier about Wakanda’s awareness, this is a thread that seems just waiting to be pulled, particularly since rumors swirl that Zemo will show up again in Thunderbolts (these are unconfirmed). Given the new Black Panther’s wariness toward the outside world, this does not seem like an issue that can just be skirted over.
Where is Doom and What’s Next?
One world player we won’t see quite so soon, however, is the other hidden nation of Latveria. Despite a certain contingent of fans doing their best to will it into existence, Wakanda Forever does not satisfy the rumors flying around the internet of an end credits scene featuring that country or its famous ruler, Doctor Victor von Doom, although Moore admits he has read the rumors.
“I think sometimes the notion of trying to give fans exactly what they say they want is not a great one,” he says with a laugh. “You want to tell the story as the story sits. I will say, I did read that rumor. I think it’s a great rumor. But I want to disabuse people: It’s not going to happen. Not because we don’t love that idea, but because this movie, holistically, we had a story to tell with a beginning, middle, and end. Quite frankly, to have a tag of another thing at the end of it felt disingenuous to the tone of the movie.”
The next movie that Moore himself is producing is Captain America: New World Order, which, by its title alone, hints at all kinds of world realignments and conflicts that will confront the new Captain America (Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson). Whether Wakanda or Talokan will be involved no doubt remains to seen, but there’s already going to be plenty for Sam to deal with.
“We’re in pre-production now,” says Moore. “We start production next year. We couldn’t be more excited. Obviously Anthony Mackie taking over the mantle of Captain America, bringing Harrison Ford into our universe, bringing Tim Blake Nelson back into our orbit, meeting the new Falcon, more stories with Isaiah Bradley… there’s such a big story to be told there. That’s going to be pretty great.”
And if things get really rough, the new Captain America can place a call to Wakanda—where there’s a new Black Panther who’s ready for whatever may come at her.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is in theaters now.