The stirring new trailer for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever promises a woman will rise to take the place of T’Challa, the Black Panther who rules and protects Wakanda.
The unexpected death of Chadwick Boseman — and Marvel’s vows not to recast him as T’Challa — left a huge question about how the new Ryan Coogler film would handle the succession plan in the fictional world of Wakanda. The new trailer, like the first one for Wakanda Forever, indicates that T’Challa, like the man who played him, is deeply mourned. But the new trailer also suggests that a woman will take his place.
As Wakanda and the rest of the surface world face a new threat of a submariner adversary named Namor (Tenoch Huerta), Wakanda’s Queen Mother, Ramonda (Angela Bassett), gives a powerful speech to someone we don’t see. She acknowledges that Wakanda may seem vulnerable in the days after T’Challa’s death. But in true Wakandan fashion, she knows something the outside world doesn’t.
“Now is our time to strike,” she says. “Show them who we are.”
Cue a very dramatic buildup to a silhouetted figure leaping from above… and standing tall… in the Black Panther costume, flecked with gold. The camera tilts up to reveal a new, female Black Panther. But who is she?
If the film follows Marvel comics storylines, Shuri (Letitia Wright) seems the most likely candidate to take on the role of Black Panther. She is the younger sister of T’Challa, and has served as the Black Panther before. She has also clashed with Namor. And a female Black Panther would also follow a recent MCU pattern of women taking the mantle (or armor, or hammers) of established superheroes: Jane Foster becoming Thor, Kate Bishop becoming Hawkeye, et cetera.
But does the Wakanda Forever trailer just want us to think that Shuri is the new Black Panther? We wouldn’t put it past the Marvel Universe to drop a big surprise on us. And it’s interesting that Lupita Nyong’o, who plays Nakia in the Black Panther-verse, doesn’t turn up much in the trailer. Hmmm.
Given the four-year wait since the original Black Panther — which was the top-grossing film of 2018, beating even Avenger: Infinity Wars — interest is intense in how Marvel will handle the matter. But Coogler may have more universal questions on his mind. In an interview with Empire, the Black Panther and Wakanda Forever director said the central quesion of the new film will be, “How do you carry on in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds?’
He said the question became unfortunately more relevant for the production, which carried on through the pandemic.
“Unfortunately, that question became more and more relevant. Both for humanity as a whole, but also for the people in our production who were coming back for this one,” Coogler told Empire. “It became super-relevant when we lost our bro.”
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever arrives in theaters November 11.
Main image: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.