Following the passing of Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman in late August 2020, much of the franchise's sequel film was left up in the air while the cast and crew mourned the loss of our beloved Wakandan king.
Fans have had many questions about the nature of Black Panther 2, and whether it can still happen at all without Boseman at the forefront of the film. Fans have also (very reluctantly) begun to ask who the next Black Panther will be, now that Boseman will no longer carry the dual mantle of warrior/king.
But for the last few months, little has been heard from anyone at Marvel Studios about the status of the new film, other than that their main focus was taking the time they needed to process the loss of Boseman and figure out what their next steps are.
Now, it looks like the first few steps are being taken in bringing the second Black Panther installment to the MCU.
Hollywood Reporter is exclusively reporting that many stars from the Black Panther film will be returning, including Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke and Angela Bassett. Additionally, THR's sources are saying that "Wright’s character may take on a more prominent role."
WHAT THIS MEANS
First and foremost, this news confirms that Black Panther 2 will have the return of Shuri, Nakia, M'Baku, and Ramonda. As exciting as this news is, the only real surprise here is Nakia - a character fans haven't seen since the first Black Panther film. It's unknown what her role may be, but having a hand in Wakanda's newfound global outreach efforts under T'Challa's rule is a likely scenario for the Wakanda spy Nakia.
The more interesting news is that "Letitia Wright's character may take on a more prominent role" - a suspicion many fans have had since coming to terms that Chadwick Boseman will not be returning.
Whether or not Shuri will take up the mantle of Black Panther is a whole other implication in itself, but it's a notion that seems to carry more and more credibility as more news comes out about the Black Panther sequel. In fact, Marvel Studios would have plenty of source material to work with from Marvel comics if they wanted to start Shuri on a path to becoming the next Black Panther.
Shuri has gained a lot of attention over the past couple of years, and with her studies of pretty much everything that goes on the MCU, it would make sense to pull her closer to the spotlight, regardless of who she shares the screen with. Also, with recent confirmation that Shuri is working on synthesizing the Wakandan herb that gives the Black Panther his (or her) strength, and considering that she also has an interest in creating her own line of super soldiers, Shuri will most certainly be heavily involved in finding the next Black Panther, regardless of whether it ends up being her or not.