Daniel Kaluuya's W'Kabi may be sitting out Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, but his Wakandan traitor does have an off-screen story according to the director.
With Chadwick Boseman and T'Challa tragically gone, the rest of the Black Panther cast will be stepping into the spotlight for larger roles to honor the legacy of the original lead. Although, unfortunately, not everyone will be back, as Daniel Kaluuya's W'Kabi will be sitting out the MCU sequel.
The actor was unable to return for Wakanda Forever as much of the original production plan, before delays and reshoots came into play, overlapped with his starring role in Jordan Peele's Nope. Nonetheless, Kaluuya insisted that his absence is in the best interest of Black Panther 2 and its story.
However, even though the Nope star won't be taking to screens this time around, director Ryan Coogler still has an off-screen role in mind for the character that will be touched on briefly in Wakanda Forever.
Daniel Kaluuya's Black Panther 2 Absence Explained
Following the news that W'Kabi actor Daniel Kaluuya will not be returning for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever due to scheduling conflicts with Jordan Peele's Nope, director Ryan Coogler revealed his unseen story in the sequel.
Speaking to Cinemablend, Okoye actress Danai Gurira was asked what has happened between the married couple since Black Panther.
In the climax of the 2018 flick, the Dora Milaje leader forced her husband to surrender after he had led Kilmonger's army into battle against T'Challa.
Gurira revealed "[they] did" discuss what had happened between films and that "there was stuff that we didn’t end up doing but we definitely did:"
“We did. We did. I can’t go into too many details. You would have to ask my director about that whole thing. But we definitely did. There was stuff that we didn’t end up doing but we definitely did."
Coogler noted that W'Kabi is "basically banished," and Wakanda Forever will feature "one line that refers to him still being alive:"
“Yeah… He’s basically banished, but still in Wakanda’s borders. Yeah, does that make sense? So, there’s one line that refers to him still being alive.”
Kaluuya previously addressed his absence in the Black Panther sequel as he described it as "what's best for the story," despite the fact that it was originally shooting conflicts that hindered his return, not a creative decision:
“It’s what’s best for the story, what’s best for the film. I’m excited for it. I’m excited to watch it."
The W'Kabi actor also dodged questions about his potential MCU future with a simple, "You know I can't tell you:"
“You know I can’t tell you! You’re supposed to start with that!”
The Nope star also shared his hopes for fans to go into Wakanda Forever spoiler-free because the element of surprise is "what was amazing about the first one:"
“If I said anything, people would be really disappointed. That’s how I feel about it. I think people will be disappointed. They don’t want to be spoiled. They’re surprised in whatever will happen. That’s what was amazing about the first one.”
How W'Kabi's Absence Impacts Black Panther 2 & Okoye
W'Kabi was once the head of security of Wakanda's Border Tribe - responsible for protecting the nation from foreign threats - and the best friend of T'Challa. But his radicalization by Kilmonger and treachery to the throne have clearly led to his banishment from Wakandan society as he now resides elsewhere in the nation.
Discovering W'Kabi has been banished finally explains his absence in Infinity War as the protector of the nation's borders surely should have been central to holding off Thanos' attack. Whoever has now taken over those responsible now ought to have a major part in Wakanda Forever as Talocan comes calling for war.
But based on director Ryan Coogler's comments, Daniel Kaluuya's absence won't have any major bearing on Black Panther 2 as his inclusion is limited to just one line. One would imagine this line will be tied to his relationship with Okoye, which has almost certainly ended between films after she forced his surrender in Black Panther.
Rumors previously circulated that Okoye will be in an LGBTQIA+ relationship with another member of the Dora Milaje in Wakanda Forever. This seems to suggest she has moved well past her ex-husband in the in-universe seven years that she has lived through since Black Panther as a survivor of Thanos' snap.
For now, it's too soon to tell whether W'Kabi could ever return to the MCU in Black Panther 3 or another project, but Wakanda Forever ought to make that clearer. At one point, Stacy Caballero was listed as assistant costume designer to Kaluuya on the sequel, so perhaps he may make a surprise appearance after all.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hits theaters on Friday, November 11.