Black Panther: Wakanda Forever may just be the MCU’s most anticipated release of the new decade so far. The most recent trailer for the movie revealed a glimpse of what fans should expect with the upcoming blockbuster, including the introduction of one of Marvel’s most adored villains, and a brand new Black Panther suit.
Following the tragic death of Chadwick Boseman, fans were unsure how the MCU was going to handle the Black Panther sequel. The first trailer revealed that Boseman’s T’Challa would be honored and immortalized both in and outside of the universe, but didn’t reveal who would be taking on the Black Panther mantle. Fan theories have ranged from characters like Princess Shuri, to M’Baku, and even Storm from the X-Men, the latter of which was once married in the original comics, and are now divorced.
The latest trailer has made it clear that the suit will be donned by one of the powerful women in the movie, so here are our top picks for characters who should take on the title of protector of Wakanda.
As the crown Princess of Wakanda, Letitia Wright’s Shuri is the most likely option for the next Black Panther. The mantle is usually passed from ruler to ruler, giving Shuri a good standing to become the next protector. There is also the fact that Shuri is one of the smartest people in the world, and the original designer of T’Challa’s suits. She understood the roles and responsibilities of the Black Panther and seeing T’Challa’s sister take on his mantle would be satisfying to many hopeful fans.
It should also be noted that Shuri has taken on the Black Panther title previously in the comics when T’Challa was injured and unable to fulfill his roles. This makes the argument even more solid for Shuri to be the woman in the suit.
Nakia, played by Lupita Nyong’o, is one of T’Challa’s childhood friends who eventually became a romantic partner. In the first movie, she proved to be a skilled warrior as well as a brilliant diplomat and spy. Her close relationship with T’Challa makes her another good candidate who may don the new Black Panther suit. It is quite believable for Nakia to decide to take on the title after T’Challa’s death as a way to honor him and continue his legacy, especially since the pair shared many similar beliefs about the fate of Wakanda.
Okoye is another strong contender for who could be the next Black Panther. Danai Gurira plays the fierce commander of the all-female warrior unit of Wakanda, the Dora Milaje. Okoye is one of the most skilled warriors in Wakanda and a respected leader, all of which are traits that could support her claim to the Black Panther mantle. Considering how close she was shown to be to T’Challa and her devout loyalty to her country, it would not be far-fetched to believe that Okoye decided to take on the mantle to protect her people after the death of their king.
Another Dora Milaje warrior that could take on the Black Panther mantle is fierce and devoted Ayo. Florence Kasumba plays the loyal and intimidating second-in-command of the Dora Milaje. We see Ayo in the first Black Panther movie, as well as in the series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, where she constantly uses her screen time to prove that she is a force to be reckoned with. In an event where Okoye decides that she must remain the commander of the Dora Milaje, she may appoint Ayo to battle as the Black Panther to protect Wakanda, a country she is ever ready to protect and honor at all times.
The MCU may decide to pull a twist and put a new face as the Black Panther. In this case, a likely choice would be Aneka, played by Michaela Coel, a casting that has been met with widespread praise from fans. Aneka is a captain and fight instructor in the Dora Milaje, and it’s safe to say that the character will likely be getting a healthy amount of screen time. Though this is one of the most unlikely theories, the MCU could choose to surprise fans by having someone unfamiliar don the Black Panther suit.