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The Dora Milaje in Wakanda in 'Black Panther'

This Theory About Who Michaela Coel Will Play In Black Panther 2 Is Thunderous

Wakanda Forever is already straight fire.

Marvel Studios

When Chadwick Boseman passed away in August 2020, it was a shock to fans everywhere. Of course, it was also a blow to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Boseman had kept his cancer diagnosis private; not even the screenwriter and director of Black Panther, Ryan Coogler, knew about it. Therefore, he had to start his script for Black Panther's sequel from scratch upon Boseman's death. But these details about Black Panther: Wakanda Forever suggest the series has found a way forward.

The average comics fan might not understand why Boseman's death would be a big deal to Marvel. Superhero films change lead actors the way most characters change outfits. But Boseman's performance was groundbreaking, and his character, King T'Challa, was closely identified to him. Moreover, his passing's tragic and sudden nature made it a pair of shoes no Black actor would want to step into. Whoever took the role next would be measured against Boseman's performance and would be found lacking simply for not being Boseman. Marvel could eventually recast the character, but not right away.

But with Black Panther 2 getting a 2022 release date and the rest of the cast likely contracted to do it, the show would have to go on. And it seems Coogler has found a way to make it work. The clues are all there in the film's revealed title, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever:

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Teaser

Filming started for Black Panther 2 in July 2021. But fans got their first glimpse of the new film's logo in Marvel's "Celebrate the Movies" trailer posted on May 3. It now has the ensemble-oriented subtitle of Wakanda Forever, inspired by Boseman's famous line from the first film.

Unlike all the other titles, in which the main character's name is equal to or larger than the subtitle, in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the size is reversed. The Black Panther may be gone, but he was only one man. In the end, it's the world he came from that remains and is the point of the story: Wakanda is forever.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Cast

David M. Benett/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Marvel has not officially confirmed casting information for Black Panther's sequel, other than Boseman will not be in it. (That includes no CGI version of the actor either.) Nor will a new actor come in and take the role of T'Challa. Michael B. Jordan's character will also not return, despite persistent rumors that he will.

But fans expect the rest of the core cast to return, especially with Boseman gone. That would include Letitia Wright as Shuri, Lupita Nyong'o as Nakia, Danai Gurira as Okoye, Angela Bassett as Queen Ramonda, Winston Duke as M'Baku, and Daniel Kaluuya as W'Kabi. Martin Freeman is also expected to return as CIA agent and friend of Wakanda, Everett K. Ross.

In November 2020, The Hollywood Reporter reported Tenoch Huerta (Narcos: Mexico) was reportedly joining the film as a yet-undisclosed antagonist. But the real excitement hit in July 2021, when Variety reported BAFTA winner Michaela Coel, best known for the critically acclaimed HBO series I May Destroy You, was also joining the cast.

The initial assumption from some was that Coel might take the place of Wright as a more grown-up Shuri. But that was quickly overtaken by a more compelling idea: Coel might play Storm.

Fans of the Marvel films will know Storm as one of the X-Men, initially played by Halle Berry in the early aughts trilogy. But comic books fans know Storm’s role in Black Panther is far more critical, as the woman T’Challa eventually falls head over ears for and marries.

When the MCU made the first Black Panther film, Marvel was still bifurcated, with the X-Men owned by 20th Century Fox, so Storm was not a character available to Coogler to use. Instead, he went with Nakia as a substitute love interest. But with mutant-kind now on the table, and fans looking for signs of the inevitable invasion at every turn, the idea of Coel as T’Challa’s wife is too juicy to ignore. And with the initially planned story out the window, why not use Marvel’s most popular standalone franchise as a backdoor to bringing in some of the comic’s best-known characters?

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Plot

Marvel Studios

So far, other than what one can surmise from the film's title, details for Black Panther's sequel have been kept tightly under wraps. The official synopsis, according to Marvel.com, also gives little away:

Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will continue to explore the incomparable world of Wakanda and all of the rich and varied characters introduced in the first film.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Release Date

Marvel Studios

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was initially planned to arrive in Marvel's preeminent May debut slot. But the death of Boseman delayed the original January 2021 filming start date. The new and hopefully finalized premiere date is now for the summer blockbuster spot of July 8, 2022.

The first Black Panther movie is streaming on Disney+.