With Black Panther destroying box office records, there is no doubt we’ll be getting a sequel focused on the title superhero beyond his next appearances in Avengers: Infinity War and the untitled Avengers 4. Marvel Studios probably has the entire trilogy mapped out, and hopefully a slew of spin-offs as well. Black Panther is a lot like Guardians of the Galaxy in the way it could allow for infinite possibilities with its setting.
Although parent company Disney hasn’t officially announced let alone scheduled a Black Panther 2 yet, we’re ready to discuss what we want from the follow-up. Obviously, there are spoilers for the first movie below.
The mid-credits sequence of Black Panther sees T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) addressing the world in the same building where his father was murdered in Captain America: Civil War. He promises this room of statesmen that Wakanda will no longer remain hidden from the world, and that their technological resources will now be open to those that need them. An exasperated official balks at the notion, asking T’Challa what technological resources could Wakanda possibly offer.
There’s a pause. We get a series of reaction shots from the crowd, including a knowing grin from Martin Freeman’s Everett Ross, whom we last saw remotely piloting the Royall Talon Fighter in aerial combat. We cut back to T’Challa, a small smile growing larger on his face, as he’s thrilled to snap back at that dismissive arrogance. Wakanda is going to change the planet.
It’s anyone’s guess as to how the events of Infinity War will leave Wakanda’s utopian society. Assuming that Thanos doesn’t completely devastate The Great Mound and the Vibranium can still flow, Black Panther 2 can be left alone to answer the questions left hanging by the first film. While there were a few tangential tie-ins to the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe, Black Panther didn’t need to bother with Infinity Stones or any other overly plotted MacGuffins. Let’s keep the sequel that way.
At the end of Black Panther, T’Challa is convinced that Wakanda must open up its borders. Through conflict with Erik Killmonger, a great sin has been exposed. T’Challa’s father, and every king before him, fought to keep their paradise a secret from the world. This led to a myriad of historic evils including fratricide and the abandonment of young Erik to the terrorized American streets of Oakland, California.
Growing up witnessing all the human horrors we see every day on the news, plus acquiring the additional terrible knowledge that the Wakandans exist with the capabilities to free him from such atrocities, poisoned his soul. Killmonger’s rage against the land of his birth is absolutely understandable. So, even when T’Challa rams a blade into his ribcage, the hero reconciles that the true villainy of this story was committed by his own people.
Black Panther 2 needs to be a direct response to T’Challa’s United Nations address. Simply opening up the gates and revealing Vibranium spaceships to the youth of Oakland will not result in global harmony. T’Challa’s good intentions must be challenged. Here is where we have to ask for the obligatory Empire Strikes Back darker middle entry of a trilogy that will ultimately affirm T’Challa’s decision as a righteous one. There will be a lot of pain.
Centuries of isolation have bred a disgust and fear of the outside world for the Wakandans. They have watched the same malevolence that Killmonger lived through. They have sat back while we enslaved the unfortunate and waged war with each other and stockpiled wealth away from the needy. As Black Panther shows early on, via W’Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya), the idea of letting refugees hang out in their markets is a distasteful one. He’d rather take the war to the outsiders than let one unworthy foot step on Wakandan soil. That sentiment cannot be a solitary one. Black Panther 2 will see T’Challa’s ideals challenged by his own people.
With both Killmonger and Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) killed off, is there an obvious “bad guy” to lead the charge against T’Challa? In an interview with Yahoo Movies, director Ryan Coogler says that he originally wanted to have the Spider-Man villain Kraven at his disposal. The big game hunter could easily function in a role similar to Klaue, another low-level pest, but I don’t imagine him holding the same emotional threat that Killmonger claimed.
W’Kabi might step up. In the comic books, he was always portrayed as a strong supporting sidekick with a badass cybernetic arm, but Coogler used this BFF as a means to disrupt the perceived harmony between the five tribes. There is no going back for this character. He could easily continue the resistance against T’Challa.
I’d love to see Coogler adapt the first story arc in Ta-Nehisi Coates’s current run on the character. It’s the perfect backbone to depict the growing pains of T’Challa’s moral decision. Refugees within Wakanda will result in unrest. Those Sunday morning meetings with the five tribes will certainly involve a good deal of shouting and possible civil war. Who controls the Vibranium mound will become absolutely paramount.
There has been some fanboy speculation that Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) will go down the dark path that her comic book counterpart did by transforming into the super-villain Malice, but that seems like a big stretch for the character, as we’ve seen her on screen, to take. Nakia’s mission right now seems totally aligned with T’Challa’s outreach. She will fight by his side against W’Kabi’s pessimistic worldview.
However, the Dora Milaje could splinter under civil tensions. Some will side with W’Kabi and they could even get ahold of the Midnight Angel tech. These stealth flight suits allow the Dora to take to the sky, forming a daunting strike force against T’Challa. Okoye (Danai Gurira) was so loyal to the throne in the first film that her breaking off with W’Kabi seems unlikely, but she also exhibited a strong dose of distrust for foreigners. Wakanda’s new international strategy will rankle her feathers, and maybe she’ll flirt with insurrection. At the very least, I’d love to see her strapped to a Midnight Angel suit going toe-to-toe with whatever new enhancements are added to the Black Panther costume.
Both Ramonda (Angela Bassett) and Shuri (Letitia Wright) will step further into the spotlight. T’Challa will need the council of his mother. She has the confidence in her son, but she’ll also be there to navigate the gray areas boiling inside the Golden City. This internal strife could see T’Challa losing the throne once more, allowing his sister Shuri to take on the mantle of the Black Panther.
We’re also going to need to see a lot more of the Necropolis and its Ancestral Plane. He can still chat with his father, but I’d love to see T’Challa tap into that ancient Black Panther experience. There is a long line of badasses for him to consult with, and maybe even a few he can battle. Those kings will certainly not be happy with T’Challa’s actions either. Maybe, we could even get a conversation with the goddess Bast herself?
What about Black Panther’s final stinger? We see Bucky (Sebastian Stan) free from his medically induced coma, and hopefully his Winter Soldier programming. He steps out of a Wakandan hut while the village children chant “White Wolf! White Wolf!” Is this a reference to T’Challa’s adopted brother from the comics who went rogue because he thought the Black Panther was spending too much time outside of Wakanda? Maybe. I certainly don’t see Bucky taking sides against T’Challa.
It’s interesting to consider what happens to Bucky in the wake of Avengers 4. We’ve been screaming for death in the Marvel Universe, so could Captain America finally succeed in delivering the ultimate sacrifice? What if Steve Rogers doesn’t pass the torch to Bucky, but to Sam Wilson instead? Both characters have followed in Steve’s footsteps in the comics, and I kind of like the idea of Bucky soothing his woes in Wakanda. As The White Wolf, he could kick some ass back-to-back with the Black Panther. But let’s keep that silliness for the third film.
Black Panther 2 needs to push T’Challa to his breaking point. His apparent altruism needs to be tested. He’s learned from the sins of his past, but an overnight re-invention of the Wakandan way of life is impossible.
How long do we have to wait to hear whether (or more likely when) the sequel will actually happen? Head honcho Kevin Feige told Variety last week that while they only work on one movie at a time, Black Panther “has been around for more than half a century in the comic books and there are many, many stories to tell,” implying Black Panther 2 isn’t planned out but is expected.
As for Coogler, he was not immediately contracted to helm a sequel, but any continuation without him would be incredibly disappointing. Feige states that he hopes Coogler will return for the sequel. And so do we. It’s time to back that dump truck full of cash up to the director’s doorstep and get out of his way.