When Black Panther hit theaters in February of 2018, it immediately became one of the most impactful and important comic book movies of all time. Not only was this movie a top-tier MCU product, but the representation, cultural expansion, and authentic aesthetic made this an instant classic. It's one of the many reasons the shocking death of Chadwick Boseman in August 2020 was such a great loss for the MCU, Marvel fans, and the world.
Boseman had played T'Challa (aka the Black Panther) since 2016's Captain America: Civil War. After 3 more appearances in Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame, he became a fan favorite. His passing led to one of the most important pieces of the Marvel Cinematic Universe puzzle being taken off the board.
As the saying goes, the show must go on. Time passed, mourning had taken place, and it became appropriate to decide the future of the Black Panther franchise. It was made clear that Marvel Studios had no intention of recasting T'Challa, and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was announced in May 2021. So the questions amongst fans turned the focus to how they would say goodbye to T'Challa in-universe.
T'Challa's Passing In Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
In the official Disney press release detailing Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, it's stated that T'Challa has died by the time the film begins. After the tragic passing of Chadwick Boseman in August 2020, fans have speculated how the Black Panther franchise would handle losing its lead actor.
Wakanda Forever's official synopsis is as follows:
"In Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), Shuri (Letitia Wright), M’Baku (Winston Duke), Okoye (Danai Gurira) and the Dora Milaje (including Florence Kasumba), fight to protect their nation from intervening world powers in the wake of King T’Challa’s death. As the Wakandans strive to embrace their next chapter, the heroes must band together with the help of War Dog Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) and Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) and forge a new path for the kingdom of Wakanda. Introducing Tenoch Huerta as Namor, king of a hidden undersea nation, the film also stars Dominique Thorne, Michaela Coel, Mabel Cadena and Alex Livanalli."
This confirms that T'Challa's death will occur between the events of Avengers: Endgame and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Saying Goodbye to a King
King T'Challa of Wakanda has passed away. With Black Panther: Wakanda Forever releasing this November, the movie will open with the loss of T'Challa having already happened. Based on the official trailer released at San Diego Comic-Con, it seems that the film will begin with T'Challa's funeral, meaning that the remaining franchise players will be dealing with the struggle of the loss throughout the story.
This situation puts Wakanda Forever in a different spot than any other movie on the MCU slate. For a franchise that prides itself on planning ahead and building for the future, losing one of the key players will throw a wrench into the machine. The Black Panther sequel Kevin Feige and director Ryan Coogler originally had in mind no longer exists. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has the daunting tasks of not only building on one of the most important IPs in film, but also paying tribute to Chadwick Boseman.
Having T'Challa's death happen (most likely) off-screen allows them to begin their film with that tribute and center the story on what is next for Wakanda, the throne, and the mantle of Black Panther.
Now that this question is answered, the next biggest matter on the list is simple: who's next?
There are many rumors about who will wear the vibranium in Wakanda Forever. Each rumor is paired with a candidate to take the mantle, of which many have a great case.
Nakia is a royal member of the River Tribe, a former Wakanda War Dog, and love interest of T'Challa. Okoye is the leader of the Dora Milaje and an Avenger following the events of Avengers: Infinity War. M'Baku is the leader of the Mountain Tribe, a close friend, and fellow solider of T'Challa's. Then, of course, there is Shuri. The Princess of Wakanda and one of (if not the) smartest people in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The foundation has been set. Wakandans and fans alike will be saying goodbye to a King. And the future of the Black Panther franchise will never be the same.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hits theaters on November 11.