Black Panther Wakanda Forever does not have an easy path in front of it. After the saddening loss of Chadwick Boseman last year, the future of the franchise was thrown through a loop along with everyone that loved the late actor.
Marvel exec Kevin Feige and Black Panther director Ryan Coogler were there to pick up the pieces of what was once Black Panther 2, and they worked to turn it into a project that would respect the story and world while also making it into something that Boseman would be proud of.
No story details are known yet, but most of the characters from the first film seem to be returning, with Shuri and M'Baku being among them. It's heavily rumored that an entirely new nation will be introduced in the film, that of Atlantis.
With Atlantis, of course, comes its ruler: Namor. It's very likely that both he and those he leads will be a big thorn in Wakanda's side when the film releases to the world.
Well now, during the press for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Kevin Feige has surprised the world with an unexpected addition to the cast: Iron Man protege, Ironheart.
IRONHEART TO DEBUT IN BLACK PANTHER 2
In an exclusive interview with Kevin Feige, the President of Marvel Studios confirmed to Comicbook.com that Dominique Thorne's Riri Williams will debut first in Black Panther Wakanda Forever ahead of her own solo Disney+ outing Ironheart.
"We're shooting Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, right now, and the character of Riri Williams, you will meet in Black Panther 2 first... She started shooting, I think, this week before her Ironheart series."
The character was introduced in the comics after Iron Man's death, where she used her intelligence and access at MIT to build her own suit.
Just a day before this news was confirmed by Feige, @MsLizzieHill over at The Cosmic Circle actually confirmed this information, revealing that Riri Williams was set to debut in Black Panther Wakanda Forever, something she had previously hinted at in the past.
At the time of the announcement, it seemed very odd that Kevin Feige revealed the casting for the role of Ironheart, especially given lots of the other show's not getting similar casting news. With her show set to go into production in April 2022, it seems pretty obvious in hindsight that the character was always meant to pop up somewhere else before her own show.
It was rumored a few weeks back that Riri Williams was set to appear in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever thanks to the news of filming gearing up to shoot at MIT in Cambridge, a location which holds a strong connection to Ironheart's origin in the comics.
It's at MIT where she strapped together the pieces that eventually became her own Iron Man suit, one that went on her to even get its own Tony Stark AI.
One initial thought is that Williams' connection to the film will have to do with the Wakanda Outreach Centre in which T'Challa put into Shuri's care at the end of Black Panther. As for what her larger role in the story may be, well, that's a little harder to pin down.
Fans will have to wait until July 8, 2022 to see where exactly Riri Williams fits into the story, and then how it will continue into her own series Ironheart further down line.