This article discusses Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Spoilers ahead.
The recently-released Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was tasked with an immeasurable task — finding a replacement to Chadwick Boseman‘s Black Panther. After the actor passed in 2020 due to cancer, fans rallied for his iconic role as T’Challa to be recast. However, Marvel Studios was firm in not recasting the role and instead chose to explore other options for the Black Panther sequel.
Finding a worthy successor to the Black Panther title turned out to be largely successful. But behind-the-scenes, things could’ve turned out differently.
In Wakanda Forever, we eventually find T’Challa’s sister, Letitia Wright’s Shuri, taking on the mantle of Black Panther. But according to the film’s co-screenwriter Joe Robert Cole, some other names were initially considered for the next Black Panther. These characters included Winston Duke’s M’Baku and Lupita Nyong’o’s Nakia. Ultimately, they settled on Shuri “because in the comics, Shuri is Black Panther and there’s a natural organicness, I guess is the best way to say it, to her becoming Panther.”
Wakanda Forever producer Nate Moore agrees, citing in a separate interview, “When you think about it narratively with the story we’re telling, [Shuri] is the most affected by T’Challa’s passing. And she maybe is the only one who has the tools to bring the Black Panther mantle back. Because, if you remember from the first film, Killmonger had destroyed all of the heart-shaped herb anyway.”
He adds, “Calls for M’Baku or Okoye [or Nakia] seemed a bit like throwing darts at a dartboard for me… And Letitia Wright nails it.”
Meanwhile, one other character that could take on the role of the Black Panther, at least in the far off future, was revealed in Wakanda Forever‘s mid-credits scene. Preserving T’Challa’s legacy, the scene reveals that the late king had a child with Nakia.
The kid, also named T’Challa, originally had a bigger role in the movie prior to Boseman’s passing. Unfortunately, losing the elder T’Challa meant that the script had to change. Cole says, “Yeah, [in] a previous iteration, we really were more child-focused in the narrative, and his son was a part of that. Obviously that changed, but we wanted him to exist in the film in some way. It was much more reduced.”