Black Panther is one of the most beloved and acclaimed movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and there will never be another quite like it. Sadly, we can say this with certainty, since the man who uttered King T’Challa of Wakanda, the fantastic Chadwick Boseman, passed away in 2020 after a key, four-year fight with cancer. Although Black Panther two was announced well ahead of his passing — Boseman was, in actuality, gearing up to begin training for the movie when his illness took a turn for the worse — that the whole endeavor quickly became one enormous question mark after the star’s death.
Many questions remain, but this much we know: Black Panther 2 will still happen, together with the first film’s creative mastermind Ryan Coogler returning to compose and direct. It was declared in December 2020 (through Collider) the sequel is slated to hit the big screen on July 8, 2022. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the flick will start shooting in Atlanta in July 2021, a fire that’s expected to last for six months or longer — which must indicate that Marvel has its post-production team ready to hit the ground running, as the window between filming and filming will be pretty tight.
THR additionally reports that Narcos: Mexico’s Tenoch Huerta has joined the cast in an undisclosed villain role, and that cast members in the first film expected to return include Letitia Wright as Shuri, Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, Winston Duke as M’Baku, and Angela Bassett as Queen Ramonda. Daniel Kaluuya, that seemed as T’Challa’s friend and head of security W’Kabi, has also signaled to ET Canada that he will appear in the second installment, and, although she has not given a hard yes, Danai Gurira has also strongly hinted her Dora Milaje chief Okoye will also return (through MovieWeb).
One celebrity who we know will not be emerging in Black Panther two, unless it’s via archival footage: Boseman, though fans could be forgiven for having a bit of suspicion. Disney has shown a willingness in the past to bend over backward to acquire deceased actors back onto the screen (Carrie Fisher emerging one last time as General Leia in Star Wars: The growth of Skywalker pops into mind), along with the thought of a Black Panther movie without Boseman seems about as unthinkable as an Iron Man movie without Robert Downey, Jr.
Of course, Black Panther is a mantle, a name that has been held by Wakandan kings for generations — so for another to take on that name at least makes narrative sense. We can say with near-certainty this departure of the torch will be a focus of Black Panther two, as Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige has made it crystal clear that Boseman’s legacy isn’t to be tinkered with. Speaking to Deadline in January 2021, Feige said, “We’re not likely to have a CG Chadwick and we’re not recasting T’Challa. Ryan Coogler is working very hard right now on the script with all the admiration and genius and love that he has, which provides us great solace, so it was always about furthering the mythology and the inspiration of Wakanda. There’s also the task of honoring and respecting the continuing […] teachings from Chad as well.”
We can also safely say that if you head out to the theater for Black Panther 2, you will want to bring an extra-large box of tissues because everyone involved is eager to pay homage to Boseman and the indelible character he created in T’Challa. In his ET Canada chat, Kaluuya said, “We will have to honor Chadwick on it and provide as much to his heritage as he gave to us because he gave us everything. He was an unbelievable man with an amazing soul.”
Who will take on the mantle of Black Panther?
As is to be expected, the issue of who might be the upcoming Black Panther has been the topic of intense speculation, since the issue isn’t that there is no obvious choice — it’s that there are too many. Much of the speculation has focused on Shuri, T’Challa’s whiz kid teenaged sister, for the simple truth that there is recent precedent for the character taking on the mantle of Dark Panther from the comics. Shuri is youthful, though, and relatively inexperienced in both diplomacy and fight — so she is not always the obvious choice.
There’s also the question of who among the cast of Black Panther 2 may be the most capable of carrying future installments, and in that regard, there is one clear front-runner. Nyong’o is an Oscar-winning celebrity, an absolute force onscreen; she’s appeared in a voice role in the Star Wars sequel films and appeared in lead roles in not one, but two movies in 2019 (the horror-comedy Little Monsters and Jordan Peele’s brilliant psychological horror flick Us). As to her personality, Nakia has proven herself to be very formidable in combat, and, as a career spy, she is very likely to be quite knowledgeable about the ins and outs of various world governments, their intelligence agencies, and even their diplomatic stations. For our money, the mantle of Dark Panther is hers to lose — and there’s likely to be more competition. M’Baku, W’Kabi, and Okoye, warriors all, may feel a certain sense of entitlement to the throne, and they can each present a fairly strong case.
That is to say that it is doubtful there’ll be one obvious, consensus choice among the many Wakandan electricity players as to who the upcoming Black Panther ought to be, so we’re likely to receive a good, hard look at the internal workings of Wakandan politics and culture in Black Panther 2. Fortunately, we are going to get some persuasive supplemental material along those lines shortly.
There’s likely to be a strong connection to the Disney+ Wakanda series
In February 2021, it was declared (through Deadline) which Coogler and his production company, Proximity Media, have inked a 5-year deal to produce television content across several platforms for Disney — and because Coogler is a welcome participant in the MCU’s sandbox, his strong attention is likely to be with all the burgeoning slate of Disney+ series set in the MCU and created by Marvel Studios (as opposed to previous Marvel series, which have been produced from the now-defunct Marvel Television). Coogler’s statement following the announcement certainly bears that out; it read, in part: “We’re especially excited that we will be taking our initial leap with Kevin Feige, Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso and their partners at Marvel Studios where we will be working closely together on select MCU displays for Disney+. We are already in the mix on some projects we can not wait to discuss.”
We already understand what Coogler’s first assignment is: to develop a Disney+ string collection in Wakanda, one for which Black Panther 2 will do more than just a small bit of table-setting. While Disney and Marvel have provided exactly zero details about the new series (which remains in the very early phases of development), there are decades worth of comics lore where to draw — and it is safe to say that we could expect to view deep-dive explorations of Wakanda’s tribes, military, engineering business, plus even more.
We’ll likely have a notion of where Coogler and his team will soon be taking the long run of Wakanda in the MCU once production on Black Panther 2 has underway. As it does, we are going to be keeping our finger on the heartbeat, and we are going to be here with the news that is fit to report.