Marvel Studios‘ first small-screen effort for Disney+ has been a big success, even with its brilliantly challenging creative direction. There are many more in the pipeline to follow WandaVision, including The Falcon and the Winter Soldier beginning next month, Loki in May, Ms. Marvel and Hawkeye in late 2021, and a handful of other known live-action shows eventually arriving in the future. Now we’ve got news of one more, a drama series spun-off from Black Panther set in the Kingdom of Wakanda.
Deadline reports that Black Panther co-writer/director Ryan Coogler will shepherd the Wakanda series with his production company, Proximity Media, which now has a five-year deal with Disney. Coogler says that he is involved in multiple Marvel shows for Disney+ (it’s not clear if they are all new or if he also has a hand in any already announced), and the report shares that Proximity will also be working on projects for other Disney divisions. Star Wars, perhaps? Animation? Maybe even some original movies for the streamer? Coogler does wonders with franchises, but that’s not all.
Also, we can think beyond Coogler’s personal brand and vision. Documentary filmmaker Peter Nicks, whose Homeroom is earning deserved raves at Sundance this year, is also part of Proximity Media, so there could even be nonfiction efforts in store for the company at Disney+. Sure, the superheroes and familiar IPs are what drive deals like these, but it’s not often that I get to be excited for the possibility that the more popular endeavors allow for areas like documentary series to thrive, too. Still, there is no acknowledgment of such projects in the news release. I’m just being hopeful.
Meanwhile, the Wakanda series carries a reminder of the sad fact that Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman is no longer with us and will be notably absent from anything related to the 2018 blockbuster. Coogler and Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige recently confirmed that Boseman will not be replaced in the franchise. Black Panther, the character, a.k.a. T’Challa, will not be recast nor represented with special effects or other means in Marvel Cinematic Universe installments.
That includes the Black Panther feature film sequel, which Coogler is supposed to film this year for a 2022 release. There is nothing known about what the movie will now entail. Black Panther II had been greenlit years ago, and Coogler had been working on it with Boseman in mind to continue. That script may have been scrapped entirely or he could be redirecting focus onto another character, such as T’Challa’s sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright). Some fan theories have been informed by the multiverse plans for the MCU franchise, which would allow for all sorts of new directions.
As for the Wakanda series, though, Coogler and his team did such an amazing job in their worldbuilding for the fictional nation adapted for the Black Panther movie that the possibilities are endless as to what could play out there. The easiest and most serviceable to fans would obviously involve characters we’ve met before, including the lovable Shuri. But Wakanda is a setting mostly isolated from the rest of the world and, like the Star Wars galaxy, may consist of anything at all, imagination permitting. After seeing the pay off for such ambitious ideas with WandaVision, we should be game for whatever.