The latest Black Panther film is almost upon us, and excitement is reaching fever pitch. Boasting some gorgeous visuals, an intriguing plot and a brand-new villain (as well as music by Rihanna), Wakanda Forever promises to be this month’s must-see film.
However, as exciting as the news is, returning director Ryan Coogler has his hands full: there are a lot of questions fans want answered in the sequel, and the trailers have only served to add more to the list.
Here are some of the most burning ones below.
How does T’Challa die?
Chadwick Boseman casts a long shadow over the second Black Panther film. The actor, who played T’Challa (aka Black Panther), died in 2020 from colon cancer and it’s clear that the new film will be, at least in part, a tribute to the actor’s legacy.
Kevin Feige confirmed early on in Wakanda Forever’s development that they would not be seeking to recast T’Challa, and it certainly appears from the trailers as though T’Challa has also died in the story.
His remaining family, sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) and mother, Ramonda (Angela Bassett), are seen in white mourning clothes, as what appears to be a funeral procession makes its way through the streets of Wakanda’s capital city, Birnin Zana.
However, what remains unclear is how the scriptwriters deal with what happens to T’Challa. Will he die in battle against Wakanda’s new enemy Namor, does he face another fate or will it remain unexplained? Only time will tell.
What is Wakanda’s future?
In the events of Avengers: Civil War, T’Challa becomes the King of Wakanda after his father is assassinated by Baron Zemo. However, what is less clear is who will succeed T’Challa after his death.
Though Ramonda looks to be ruling as some sort of Regent, there is no clear line of succession here, and though Shuri might well have a claim to the throne, what’s less certain is whether she even wants to be Queen.
Then there’s the case of Wakanda’s five tribes to contend with, and we already know that M’Baku has form as a troublemaker, especially when it comes to accepting authority. Maybe the time is right for Wakanda to become a democracy?
What is Atlantis – and why is it at war with Wakanda?
Marvel have been coy so far about the film’s plot, but what we do know is that the underwater realm of Atlantis (reflavoured by Marvel as the Mayan-inspired world of Talokan, presumably to avoid confusion with the DC version) looks to be set on a collision course with the Wakanda.
The trailer has teased massive floods, a Wakandan populace helpless without the protection of the Black Panther, and the appearance of what seems to be the film’s main villain, Namor. Namor (played by Tenoch Huerta) has cropped up before (yes, the dinky wings on his feet are ripped straight from the comics) as the Sub-Mariner, Marvel’s Aquaman-equivalent.
Interestingly, Namor isn’t a villain in the Marvel comic universe. He’s more of an antihero, who has worked with both the X-Men and the Fantastic Four in his time – so it remains to see what kind of role he’ll play in Wakanda Forever and what exactly he and Talokan want from this promised war.
Who will the next Black Panther be?
This is the big’un. Marvel has been teasing the return of the Black Panther in the trailers for Wakanda Forever, but we don’t know much beyond the fact that they seem to be a woman.
There are three contenders to take the claws from T’Challa, and at this point, they all seem about equally likely. First up is Shuri, who actually does take on the mantle of the Black Panther from her older brother in the comics and who is shown in the trailers both mourning T’Challa and presumably reassessing her role in the Wakandan royal family. But, with one child dead, will her mother allow her to head into danger too?
Next up is Okoye (played by Danai Gurira), a member of the feared Dora Milaje, the all-female warrior group. Okoye certainly has the fighting skills to be the next Black Panther, and she also led Wakanda through the chaos of the Snap, where the entire Wakandan royal family temporarily disappeared. She’s also been shown to be ferociously loyal to the royal family and has accompanied the Avengers on several missions: clearly, she’s not one to be trifled with.
Last is T’Challa’s love interest and childhood friend Nakia (played by Lupita Nyong’o). Originally billed as a spy rather than a warrior, we don’t see a lot of Nakia during the trailer for Wakanda Forever – although fan speculation that the baby we see being born in the first trailer is hers and T’Challa’s might explain that.
Where will the new Black Panther get their powers from?
As explained to us in the plot of the first Black Panther, the Black Panther inherits their powers by drinking a potion made from the rare heart-shaped herb that grows in a sacred temple and gives the drinker enhanced strength and agility.
However, as viewers may also remember, this temple was torched by Killmonger during the climactic moments of the first film, as he sought to cement his role as the new King of Wakanda. Will a new source of heart-shaped herbs be discovered, or will the new Black Panther have to make do? We can’t wait to find out.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will be in cinemas from November 11