The teaser trailer to the newest addition to the MCU just made its YouTube debut in July, and it has fans spiraling. The second chapter of 2018’s “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” will follow the aftermath of “Avengers: Endgame” and how the country of Wakanda has evolved after suffering some major losses. The film will also introduce a couple of interesting characters who will hopefully add some depth to the story. And one burning question presented at the end of the trailer has fans theorizing like crazy: Who is the new Black Panther? Here are some of the highlights of the trailer and some crazy theories that just might be true.
One of the biggest hurdles for the movie “Wakanda Forever” is the death of T’Challa. T’Challa, played by Chadwick Boseman, is the protagonist of this movie’s predecessor, “Black Panther,” and is the face behind the Black Panther’s mask. However, after the tragic passing of Boseman, screenwriters had to revise T’Challa’s future in the MCU. But how?
At the beginning of the trailer, we are brought to a funeral procession in which T’Challa’s sister, Shuri (played by Letitia Wright), leads the march in remembrance of her brother. This confirms that T’Challa does die sometime before this movie takes place. It’s possible that T’Challa died in battle protecting Wakanda, but it is also fair to assume he died from illness, which would be a heartbreaking nod to Boseman’s own death. Neither are mentioned in the trailer, but fans hope that whatever storyline they decide to follow will show respect to Boseman and his beloved character. However, with the death of T’Challa confirmed, who will become the new Black Panther? More on this later.
Namor is the biggest antagonist in the film “Wakanda Forever.” Played by Tenoch Huerta, Namor is a sea-dwelling mutant ruling over the kingdom of Atlantis. He is the first mutant to ever be introduced into the Marvel comics and is one of the oldest members of the Avengers. In the comics, he is a very powerful and ruthless character. However, in the “Wakanda Forever” trailer, Namor is introduced as a newborn baby. In this scene, we see a human woman giving birth in shallow water, and an Atlantean male with blue skin stands beside her. These are most likely his parents, which would follow closely with Namor’s comic book history as being half human and half Atlantean.
Later in the trailer, we also encounter a young Namor looking at what is assumed to be his childhood home. Both scenes cut to images of him as a grown king of Atlantis, revealing that “Wakanda Forever” will explore the depths of Namor’s tragic past as well as the seas. “Wakanda Forever” sets up Namor’s character to be similar to that of Erik Killmonger, played by Michael B. Jordan, who still managed to gain the sympathy of the audience despite being the antagonist of 2018’s “Black Panther.” By setting up his character like this, the trailer prepares viewers for a complex experience that is sure to make the audience think twice about the opposing argument.
The “Wakanda Forever” trailer also reveals the parallels between Wakanda and the underwater kingdom of Atlantis. Both kingdoms are hidden from the world, have supernatural abilities tied to their cultures and are based on real-life regions. Wakanda is based on central African cultures, while Atlantis mimics the Mayan and Aztec civilizations. The trailer shows Namor and a few other Atlanteans in Mayan/Aztec-inspired headdresses, and several scenes include architecture from these regions, including a Mayan pyramid and wall art depicting Mayan gods.
Both regions have been affected by colonization, and therefore, both have the same motives to fight against most of the modern world. However, their difference lies in their ability to change. At the end of “Black Panther,” Wakanda comes out to the world as a technologically advanced country and offers to share its resources. In contrast, Atlantis is very well tucked away from the modern world and even comes off as primitive with its use of feathers and bones to accessorize everything. So, how will Atlantis react to Wakanda’s choice to be open to the world? What tensions may form between Wakanda and Atlantis? And how will Atlantis react if Western ships mine in Atlantis’ waters for its most precious mineral, vibranium?
“Wakanda Forever” introduces a good number of characters, with comic book characters Riri Williams and Aneka getting spots in the teaser trailer. Riri Williams, played by Dominique Thorne, appears as a young engineer under Shuri’s leadership in Wakanda. In the trailer, she is shown in a lab tinkering with a slab of iron and carefully carving out the shape of a heart, alluding to her role in the film. In the comics, Riri Williams is an MIT student who builds her new persona as the superhero Iron Heart, a predecessor to the great Iron Man. Riri Williams is an exciting addition to the character roster, as it will more than likely serve as the origin story for this hero and set up her solo series on Disney+, which is set to air in 2023.
Another exciting addition to the film’s list of characters is Aneka, played by Michaela Coel. In the comic books, Aneka is a runaway Wakandan warrior who assembles a team of her own called the Midnight Angels, whose main purpose is to free women from oppressive situations. Coel brings life to this character with her fiery spirit and signature electric blue armor as seen in the books. She and the other Midnight Angels are first introduced in the 2010 book “Doomwar Vol. 1, Part 5,” in which the Midnight Angels team up with the Black Panther and Deadpool to defeat Dr. Doom. Could Aneka’s character lead to a Dr. Doom Easter egg? Maybe, or maybe not. Nevertheless, the addition of these two characters is an exciting new development in the MCU.
One red flag that was flown by fans while watching the trailer was the quick mention of Shuri’s death. Ramonda, played by Angela Basset, takes up the mantle of queen after her son T’Challa’s death. Prior to this movie, we know of the deaths of T’Challa and his father, but we never saw the death of his sister, Shuri. We even see Shuri in multiple shots in the trailer. So, why then does Ramonda mention, in a tearjerking speech, that her entire family is gone? Does Shuri die? If so, how? It has to happen sometime during the movie, or otherwise, we wouldn’t have so many scenes with her in them.
The revelation of Shuri’s death has led to many theories as to how she is killed and why. One interesting theory explains that the trailer actually reveals her in the ancestral plane, shown to be the Wakandan afterlife in “Black Panther.” The theory suggests that Shuri may be in the ancestral plane to retrieve someone. Who she may be trying to bring back, we do not know. But it’s not too far off to assume she may be there to retrieve someone to take on the mantle as the Black Panther.
This brings us to the final and biggest question proposed in the “Wakanda Forever” trailer: Who is the new Black Panther? In the final scene, a brief shot shows someone donning the black and gold panther suit in the middle of a fight. The initial guesses regarding the identity of our new Black Panther are Shuri or T’Challa’s former lover, Nakia, played by Lupita Nyong’o.
However, the silhouette seems to be a bit more on the masculine side. The scene also jumps to a part in Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 song “Alright,” where he says, “and when I wake up.” This indicates that whoever is inside the suit has “woken up” from something. Perhaps they have awoken from the afterlife and been resurrected? Some think that Shuri may attempt to resurrect her brother, T’Challa, but her mission will fail and she will recruit their cousin, Erik Killmonger, instead. In “Black Panther,” Killmonger dons a black and gold panther suit, similar to the one seen in the trailer. This is a solid theory, and it would make for a great conclusion to his character. All of these would make for a great film, but unfortunately, we will have to wait until November to get an answer as to who will be our next Black Panther.
The “Wakanda Forever” teaser trailer brings a lot of excitement but also raises a lot of questions. At the end of the day, we can’t make too many assumptions, as Marvel tends to change details from the trailers in the movies just to throw theorizing fans off their trail. “Wakanda Forever” will release on Nov. 11, 2021. Until then, all we can do is wait and wonder.