Phase 4 has emphasized that fans are in a new era of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Previously supporting heroes like Anthony Mackie's Sam Wilson and Elizabeth Olsen's Wanda Maximoff have been elevated to leading stars, while new talent like Teyonah Parris's Monica Rambeau and Florence Pugh's Yelena Belova have ushered in a new wave of future faces.
2022's Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is set to both play tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman while also furthering the Wakandan mythology. With set photos seemingly confirming T'Challa's MCU status, fans are expecting a new face to take on the Black Panther mantle.
Who becomes the new protector of Wakanda may be the driving plot of the sequel, but Black Panther 2 is rumored to have numerous sub-narratives that are just as intriguing.
The film has been long-speculated to introduce fans to a certain submariner, but a new rumor indicates Wakanda Forever could debut another future Avenger.
IS IRONHEART COMING SOONER THAN EXPECTED?
Riri Williams might be making her MCU debut before her solo series lands on Disney+.
This past month, the Black Panther sequel was reported to be planning to film "around and possibly inside the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge," which led to the initial speculation of Ironheart's involvement. In the comics, Williams attends MIT and uses technology from the campus to construct her own Iron Man suit.
"Not going to write this up because The Illuminerdi has already hinted at it, but a source I trust has seemingly confirmed their speculation and indicated Riri Williams is set to pop up in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever."
BLACK PANTHER 2 FOLLOWS MARVEL TRADITION
While this would be the first time a feature film debuts a character set to continue their story on Disney+, it's common for MCU movies to introduce new heroes in supporting roles before they receive their solo spotlight.
From Natasha Romanoff in Iron Man 2 to Black Panther himself in Captain America: Civil War, Marvel Studios has been debuting future leading men and women as supporting characters in other heroes' sequels for over a decade. While others like Wanda Maximoff in Avengers: Age of Ultron and Sam Wilson in Captain America: The Winter Soldier showed face in films ahead of their solo streaming shows, they had many more feature film appearances before their respective series began.
For Dominque Thorne's Riri Williams, it looks like she will simply be introduced in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and would next appear in the Ironheart Disney+ series, anticipated for a 2023 release.
SCIENCE BROS 2.0?
As mentioned, Williams' status as an MIT student fits naturally within Black Panther 2. With the sequel shooting at the university anyway, it's appropriate to assume Williams would cross paths with a Wakandan or two on campus.
Marvel fans could even get their first taste of the new 'science bros' of the MCU, with Riri and Letitia Wright's Shuri filling Tony Stark and Bruce Banner's shoes.
The two MCU brainiacs have teamed up in the comics before. Riri journeyed to Wakanda in IRONHEART #9 in August 2019, teaming up with Shuri to take on the Ten Rings.
On the page, the two didn't exactly hit it off right away. Regardless, Riri and Shuri were able to put egos aside to defeat a common enemy, blossoming a strong friendship in the process, where Shuri told her new companion that there would always be a place for her in Wakanda.
If Letitia Wright's Shuri is one of the Wakandans present at MIT, fans could see the beginning of their eventual alliance.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hits theaters on July 8, 2022.