After a couple of years of delays and turmoil, Marvel Studios gets the chance to celebrate its efforts on Black Panther 2 with a full return to Wakanda. Director Ryan Coogler gave his best effort to deliver a story that added a meaningful new chapter to the Marvel story, featuring one of the most impressive ensemble casts of any MCU solo movie to date.
Coogler did all of this without his leading actor, the late Chadwick Boseman, whose role as T'Challa was not recast after he tragically lost his battle with cancer in August 2020. The sequel served largely as a tribute to the MCU's first Black leading man, with dozens of A-list stars stepping up to carry the narrative and push the MCU to new levels of excellence.
With all that being said, here are the 23 characters that appeared in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
1.) Shuri/Black Panther (Letitia Wright)
Letitia Wright’s Shuri became this movie's headliner, kicking things off by trying to formulate a cure for T'Challa before her brother tragically passed away. She spent the rest of the movie enveloped in her work and working to negotiate with Talokan to avoid war before taking her biggest step forward as an MCU heroine.
In the end, the princess of Wakanda became the one to carry the mantle of the Black Panther, reviving it as she stepped up to be her nation's protector.
While Shuri assumed the mantle in the final film, Black Panther 2 writer Joe Robert Cole revealed M'Baku and Nakia were among those considered to be T'Challa's successors.
2.) Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett)
Angela Bassett's Ramonda became the emotional core of this movie, retaking the throne as Queen of Wakanda after her son's passing. But while she put forth every effort to show Wakanda's place in the world while protecting her people, she became the film's biggest on-screen casualty when Namor flooded the palace.
Giving her own life to save another, Ramonda's death hit her nation hard during Wakanda's battle, inspiring Shuri and her people to honor their fallen Queen and find the best way to win the war.
Bassett's performance in Wakanda Forever earned her numerous accolades, including a nod from the Academy Awards that gave the MCU its first-ever Best Supporting Actress nomination.
3.) Okoye (Danai Gurira)
Okoye's story took some wild turns in Black Panther 2, even leading to her title of Dora Milaje General being stripped after she lost Shuri on their mission to the USA. But that didn't stop her from playing a huge role as the story progressed forward, with Shuri developing a brand-new suit for Okoye to wear in battle against Namor and Talokan.
This allowed her to embrace the Midnight Angel moniker along with impressive new powers, including superhuman strength. The new outfit and position will set her up for a unique journey in Wakanda, even though she's technically a civilian.
Gurira seems to still have a lot more juice in the MCU tank, with the actress slyly teasing that Okoye may have a Disney+ spin-off on the way.
4.) M'Baku (Winston Duke)
Winston Duke's M'Baku takes on a much different role in Black Panther 2 with the Jabari tribe no longer isolated from the rest of Wakanda. He served on Wakanda's leadership council and threw his weight around against Namor and his people, helping out Shuri in every way he could after Ramonda's passing.
He also got the chance to challenge for the throne of Wakanda after showing up to Shuri's ritual coronation, setting him up for an even bigger role in future Black Panther stories.
5.) Ayo (Florence Kasumba)
Florence Kasumba's Ayo returned to her high-ranking position with the Dora Milaje, even stepping up to be the group's General once Okoye was relieved of her duties. She supports Okoye and the rest of her Dora soldiers in this new post, joining the fight against Namor on the huge battleship in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
Ayo also becomes the MCU's latest LGBTQIA+ heroine thanks to a short moment at the end of the film after offering hints about her relationship with another member of Wakanda's royal guards.
6.) Aneka (Michaela Coel)
Michaela Coel's Aneka takes that role as Ayo's partner in Black Panther 2, kissing her on the forehead after the tussle with Talokan meets its resolution. But before that, she proves to be quite a capable warrior herself.
Aneka is seen using a pair of shiny blue blades that Shuri developed for her, giving her a unique fighting style while the rest of the Dora use their spears. She also joins Okoye as a Midnight Angel in her own suit for the final battle.
Aneka originally had a more substantial romantic plot line with Ayo that culminated in what would have been Marvel Studios' first lesbian kiss. Ultimately, this scene was left on the cutting room floor, being replaced with a short scene between the two at the end of the movie.
7.) Griot, Shuri's AI (Trevor Noah)
Longtime The Daily Show host Trevor Noah played a small but key role in 2018's Black Panther as the voice of Shuri's artificial intelligence, Griot. With her technology coming back in grand fashion for Black Panther 2, it's no surprise to hear Noah's voice once more, especially after he hinted at having a role in the movie a few weeks before its release.
Noah had a particularly special impact when he attempted to help Shuri through her work recreating the Heart-Shaped Herb, both when she tried to save T'Challa and before she became the Black Panther herself.
8.) Dr. Graham (Lake Bell)
After voicing Black Widow in Season 1 of What If...?, Lake Bell got her live-action MCU debut as Dr. Graham in Black Panther 2. Her character came aboard the vessel that was searching for Vibranium in Talokan, using Riri Williams' detection machine as her team dove deep into the ocean.
This team then faced Namor the Sub-Mariner's wrath, as he and his army attacked them and killed off the entire team. While Bell's character escaped to the helicopter on which she first arrived, Namor used his superhuman powers to literally throw the vehicle into the ocean, killing her quickly.
9.) Riri Williams/Ironheart (Dominique Thorne)
Dominique Thorne's Riri Williams/Ironheart becomes the inciting factor of this movie's entire struggle, with her Vibranium-detecting technology being what pushes Namor and his people into battle with Wakanda. Shuri and Okoye then find her at the MIT campus as she shows them her Mark I Ironheart armor, although she ends up being kidnapped by Namor along with Shuri.
Upon returning to Wakanda, Ramonda gives her life to protect Riri, inspiring her to fully support Wakanda as she develops her Mark II suit. While she had to keep that suit within Wakanda's borders, the stage is now set for her to continue her journey in the Ironheart series on Disney+, which is said to be a direct sequel to her first MCU movie.
10.) Namor (Tenoch Huerta)
Tenoch Huerta made MCU history with his portrayal of Namor the Sub-Mariner, who went wire-to-wire as the primary antagonist in Black Panther 2. After the U.S. government used Riri Williams' device to detect Vibranium in his underwater nation, Talokan, his people retaliated and asked Wakanda for an alliance in order to keep both of their nations hidden.
Namor also made a claim as the MCU's newest mutant, being the first to call himself by that term, showing off incredible powers and durability before he went toe-to-toe with Shuri. Shockingly, the two came to a resolution and an understanding as Namor stopped his assault on the surface world in exchange for Wakanda keeping their existence a secret.
While no confirmation has been given as to where Namor could appear next, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has teased that fans could be seeing more of the mutant hero down the line.
11.) Namora (Mabel Cadena)
Namora takes her place as one of the leaders of Namor's army, engaging in battle with Shuri and Okoye in Boston in order to help her country take Riri Williams hostage.
Since Namora is purely Talokanil, she uses a breathing apparatus filled with water when she's above the ocean surface, but that doesn't take away from her skills as a fighter. She serves as a key force in protecting her nation as she puts her prowess on display during the battle scenes, offering council to Namor as well after Riri and Shuri escaped custody.
12.) Attuma (Alex Livinalli)
While generally regarded as a Namor antagonist, Attuma offered his full support to Talokan's leader, largely using his strength as a virtual battering ram. His biggest moment came in the initial bridge fight in Boston against Okoye, although he mostly remained as a background player throughout the majority of the story.
Attuma actor Alex Livinalli recently opened up about the Talokanil's signature hand salute, saying that it simultaneously doubles as a sign of respect and a more colloquial "What's up, dude?"
13.) River Tribe Elder (Isaach de Bankolé)
Once again boasting a large medallion in his lip, Isaach de Bankolé makes his return for only a couple of scenes as the River Tribe elder. And while Nakia remains outside of Wakanda's borders during the movie, de Bankolé's tribal leader remained on the Wakandan council to aid Ramonda and his colleagues through the country's struggles.
14.) Merchant Tribe Elder (Dorothy Steel)
The Merchant Tribe leader once again joined the Wakandan council, played by Dorothy Steel just as she was in the original Black Panther.
Sadly, this became Steel's final movie role, as the actress passed away in October 2021 at the age of 95. Boasting one of the most unique movie careers in history that started when she was already 88 years old, this movie allowed her one last moment in the spotlight as she was honored alongside the late Chadwick Boseman after her passing.
15.) Border Tribe Elder (Danny Sapani)
The Border Tribe was well-represented in this movie with Danny Sapani's leader, who joined the council with Steel, de Bankolé, and Ramonda in an effort to stop Namor's attack. He was the only Border Tribe member in this movie, however, as Daniel Kaluuya's W'Kabi wasn't used this time around.
Sapani originally featured in a deleted scene for Wakanda Forever, in which he attempts to court Okoye into taking the throne, instead of M'Baku.
16.) Zawavari, Mining Tribe Elder (Connie Chiume)
Connie Chiume brought the last of the core four tribes, the Mining Tribe, into the equation with her appearance as part of the Wakandan council. She only had a couple of lines in her one scene from Black Panther 2, offering her guidance to Ramonda and the royal family during their meeting regarding Namor's attack.
17.) Namor’s Mother (María Mercedes Coroy)
Guatemalan actress María Mercedes Coroy only played a small role in a flashback moment as she helped to build Namor's backstory, playing the antihero's mother as the Talokanil were turned into an aquatic-based people. Since she was human to begin with, she passed away in the late 16th century as Namor lived and evolved for the centuries that followed.
18.) Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o)
While it took some time for Lupita Nyong'o to appear on screen, she brought forth an incredible performance as Nakia revealed what she's been doing since 2018's Black Panther. As the plot revealed, she left Wakanda immediately after that movie and has been away for six years in Haiti as an undercover spy for the War Dogs, helping build the nation to prosperity, although she had T'Challa on her mind all that time.
But the big surprise came during Black Panther 2's post-credits scene when Nakia revealed that she gave birth to a son with T'Challa shortly after the first movie. She had spent the last six years raising that young man away from the pressures of Wakanda, wanting him to grow up as easily as possible before becoming a royal.
19.) Everett Ross (Martin Freeman)
Martin Freeman returned for his third MCU movie, this time providing valuable intel to Shuri and Okoye as he pointed them in Riri Williams' direction following Namor's attack. After the Wakandans and Talokanil battled it out on the bridge, he found Shuri's kimoyo beads and secretly helped Okoye track down the lost Wakandan princess, putting himself in serious trouble with the CIA.
He was eventually arrested by the CIA before Okoye rescued him from his imprisonment, taking him to Wakanda for his own safety as they repaid their debts to one another. But on top of that, fans found out an intriguing part of his backstory that tied in with his entire story in this movie - he was previously married, and to somebody that fans already know and despise at that.
20.) Val (Julia Louis-Dreyfus)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus took on her biggest role yet in the MCU as Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, revealing herself to be not only the director of the CIA but Everett Ross' ex-wife as well.
She once again showed her nefarious nature by revealing to Ross that she was tracking Shuri's kimoyo beads the moment that he grabbed them, placing him under arrest while imagining what the U.S. could do with Wakanda's Vibranium. While she isn't seen again after arresting her ex-husband, she has something big planned for future appearances and every bit of access she needs in her position at the CIA.
Val next stars in Thunderbolts, where she is set to assemble a rag-tag group of misfit heroes. The soon-to-be villain is also rumored to be cooking up her own threat to the MCU, which comes in the form of a brand-new super soldier.
21.) Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan)
After a couple of rumors indicating that Michael B. Jordan's Erik Killmonger would play a role in Black Panther 2, the original Black Panther villain made an epic comeback through the Ancestral Plane. When Shuri took her redesigned Heart-Shaped Herb, Killmonger was the figure she saw when she swam through the water up to the Wakandan throne.
Jordan's villain pushes Shuri to seek revenge against those that killed her mother, saying that her brother was "too noble" to do such a thing. And while he only had one scene of screen time, his impact was felt immensely as Shuri first suited up as the Black Panther.
The Killmonger actor recently broke his silence on his MCU return, saying that he "had to lie to [his] whole family" about the cameo.
22.) Chadwick Boseman - T'Challa (Archival Footage)
As the Black Panther sequel came to a close, Chadwick Boseman made an emotional return through archival footage from the first movie. As Shuri sat on the beach behind Nakia's Haitian house, clips of Shuri and her late brother played silently as the new Black Panther completed the ritual that her mother taught her earlier in the movie.
As she burned her funeral clothes, Shuri let out a couple of final tears, reminiscing on the smiles and laughs she shared with Boseman's hero during his own run as Wakanda's king and protector. It could only have felt the same for actress Letitia Wright herself, looking back on her memories with Boseman as he appeared for possibly the final time in an MCU story.
Originally, Black Panther 2 would have been more focused on T'Challa and his experience of coming back after the Blip, in comparison to the first film which mostly centered around setting up Wakanda and its people. Coogler was ultimately able to reuse the themes of his original draft for what became Wakanda Forever, though the final product was hugely different to the initial ideas with T'Challa.
23.) Toussaint/T’Challa (Divine Love Konadu-Sun)
As was the case with Killmonger, rumors pointed to Black Panther 2 introducing the child of T'Challa and Nakia, which came to fruition in the mid-credits scene. That child was played by Divine Love Konadu-Sun, and although Nakia revealed his given name to be Toussaint, the young boy also told his Aunt Shuri about his Wakandan name - T'Challa.
In the original draft of the film, Toussaint would have had a more substantial role, interplaying with T'Challa as they embarked on a Wakandan ritual as father and son.
Marvel found a way to honor Chadwick Boseman's legacy by passing the name on to his character's son while also setting the stage for a new T'Challa to potentially ascend to the Black Panther mantle and Wakandan throne someday. And while there are no indications of where he could come back, the new T'Challa will be a vital piece of the equation to keep an eye on in the coming years.
Wakanda Forever's Cast Brings the Fire
From the expected returning players to the surprise Marvel characters from other franchises, the cast of Black Panther 2 all teamed up to deliver performances that closed out Phase 4 with a major impact. Paying tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman while also expanding on the world of Wakanda for Phase 5 and beyond, Marvel put forth an incredible effort to make sure this franchise's narrative continued the right way.
With only one post-credits scene at the end of this movie and no major deaths outside of Angela Bassett's Ramonda, there are countless avenues for these heroes and villains to take into future projects in and after the Multiverse Saga.
Talk of Black Panther 3 has already emerged, with Letitia Wright teasing that the threequel is all but confirmed. Whether Ryan Coogler will be at the helm once again is still up in the air, though the director is certainly keen to continue if Marvel Studios will allow him the opportunity to return.
For now though, these actors can celebrate another incredibly successful addition to the MCU as the Black Panther legacy lives on.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is now streaming on Disney+.