Who is the new Black Panther in Wakanda Forever?

By Kieran Burt
Published: November 11, 2022 (Last updated: January 25, 2024)

We discuss who the new Black Panther is in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. There will be spoilers for the MCU film.  

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is the latest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and is a cathartic follow-up to the first film, expanding the scope into a geopolitical epic. It raises the stakes for Wakanda, a country shaken by the loss of King T’Challa, and forces them to live in a world without their protector.

But we knew that this wouldn’t last for long, as the trailers for the film have teased that a new Panther will rise and take T’Challa’s place. There was only the question of who it would be, and now the film is out, we finally have our answer.

Will Chadwick Boseman be in Black Panther 2?

Chadwick Boseman sadly passed away in August 2020 from cancer, which meant the film lost not just an integral character but also a great actor. By that point, Wakanda Forever had started to film, but the script was readjusted to reflect the loss. A decision was taken not to recast the role or use CGI.

Because of this decision, neither T’Challa nor Chadwick Boseman appears in the modern-day plot of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. T’Challa dies offscreen due to an illness early on in the film.

T’Challa does appear briefly at the end. Shuri has flashbacks to memories of her brother and clips from the first film play without sound. In this way, Chadwick Boseman is able to briefly appear in the sequel as a way to honor his memory.

Who is the new Black Panther in Wakanda Forever?

While T’Challa’s version of the Black Panther isn’t in the film, questions were asked about who or if the hero would return. Speculation grew that Shuri (Letitia Wright) might take over the mantle, as she does in the comics. In the Black Panther run of comics titled Dark ReignVolume 5, Issue 5 shows Shuri temporarily taking on the role of Black Panther after T’Challa goes into a coma earlier in the storyline.

She would also get a new suit with a prominent white mane.

Shuri was highly speculated to take on the mantle in the MCU, and Marvel put out a teaser trailer showing the new Black Panther using Shuri’s Vibranium gauntlets, further fuelling speculation. The white dots on the helmet also led fans to believe it would be her.

Shuri is the new Black Panther in Wakanda Forever.

Is the sister the new Black Panther?

Shuri is the sister of T’Challa, and just before the final battle against Namor she takes on the role of the Black Panther. As all the heart-shaped herb plants were burned by Killmonger, she creates a synthetic version to turn herself into the Black Panther.  When Namor devastates Wakanda and forces the citizens to flee their capital, Shuri reluctantly takes on the mantle of Black Panther.

When she takes the heart-shaped herb, she isn’t transported to the ancestral plain like the other Black Panthers. Instead, she is sent to a reconstructed version of the throne room and sees Michael B Jordan’s Killmonger on the throne, explaining how they are more alike than Shuri admits. Once Shuri awakens from this conversation, she is granted the strength of the Black Panther and wears a costume adorned with white spots.

This is different from how Shuri becomes the Black Panther in the comics. In the original storyline, Shuri meets Bast, the panther god, and in her arrogance demands that Bast blesses her to be the Black Panther. Bast denies her but doesn’t kill her. To defend Wakanda, Shuri goes against Bast’s wishes and wears the suit anyway.

Black Panther Volume six saw the Black Panther mantle return to T’Challa. It’s unclear how long that Shuri will remain the Black Panther in the MCU, but it’s likely to be for at least another film.

Who is the new Black Panther actor?

Shuri is played by Letitia Wright. Outside of her recurring role in Marvel films, she has appeared in many other high-profile films like 2018’s Ready Player One, 2021’s Sing 2, and 2022’s Death on the Nile. She also has played a role in an episode of season four of Black Mirror. She is from Georgetown, the capital city of Guyana, a South American country near Venezuela.

Letitia Wright is a controversial figure, as during the production of Wakanda Forever in December 2020, she retweeted a now-deleted tweet of a transphobic, anti-vax video. She later commented that her only intention was to raise “concerns with what the [COVID-19] vaccine contains and what we are putting in our bodies.”

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