The first footage of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has been released at CinemaCon.
The teaser, which was shown as part of Disney’s larger reel of upcoming films, shows three female Wakandan warriors Shuri, Okoye, and Nakia all leading a battle - though who they are fighting remains unknown.
After Chadwick Boseman, who played Black Panther’s central character T’Challa, died from colon cancer in August 2020, the future of the franchise had been unclear, and questions swirled about how the story could move forward without its chief. But from the look of the new clip, the solution is that three of Wakanda’s most powerful women will step up into leading roles.
Letitia Wright (Avengers: Infinity War) plays Shuri, T’Challa’s younger sister, Danai Gurira (The Walking Dead, Avengers: Infinity War) plays Okoye, the head of Wakanda’s all-female special forces and Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave, Us) plays Nakia, T’Challa’s former lover and an undercover spy for Wakanda.
In December 2020 it was announced that the role of T’Challa would not be recast. Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige said: “Chadwick Boseman was an immensely talented actor and an inspirational individual who affected all of our lives professionally and personally.”
“His portrayal of T’Challa the Black Panther is iconic and transcends any iteration of the character in any other medium from Marvel’s past. And it’s for that reason that we will not recast the character.”
Marvel has however also confirmed returning roles of Daniel Kaluuya’s return as W’Kabi, Martin Freeman’s Everett K. Ross and Angela Bassett’s Ramonda. Michaela Coel (I May Destroy You) joins as a new cast member. Black Panther’s Ryan Coogler is returning to direct the sequel.
It was also confirmed in August that the character Ironheart would make her Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Ironheart made her debut in the Marvel Comics in 2016, where the teenage genius made her own superhero armour from a reverse-engineered Iron Man suit.
An Ironheart solo series, starring If Beale Street Could Talk actress Dominique Thorne, is also in the works for Disney+ but will likely arrive after Wakanda Forever hits cinemas.
The first Black Panther film was released in 2018 and became an instant success, bringing in over $1.3 billion (£1.04 billion) at the box office worldwide and gaining seven Academy Awards nominations in 2019 – including the first-ever nomination for Best Picture for a superhero film.
So now, after this exciting new footage release, rumours about the franchise have been reignited: Will mutant sea captain son Namor become Wakanda’s arch enemy? Will Wakanda go to war with Atlantis? Will Shuri eventually take over as Wakanda’s new ruler? With a release date set for November 2022, it’s likely to be several months before fans can look forward to finding out any answers.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is scheduled to be released in November 2022