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Wakanda Forever: 9 Burning Questions We Have About the Black Panther Sequel

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Warning: this article contains major spoilers for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever! If you haven’t already, check out ‘s full guide to watching the movie and when it’ll make its streaming debut.


Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is easily one of Marvel’s most important Phase 4 releases. Not only does the film reveal the heir to the Black Panther mantle and a surprising political shakeup in Wakanda, it also introduces Namor and the MCU’s version of Atlantis.

Wakanda Forever is clearly setting plenty of things in motion for Phase 5 and beyond, and that means we have a lot of questions about what’s next for Shuri, Namor and the gang. Here are the biggest mysteries from Wakanda Forever we want to see addressed.

What Disease Did T’Challa Die From?

There are many ways the MCU could have handled the death of actor Chadwick Boseman and the fate of T’Challa, but Wakanda Forever opts to stick as close to reality as possible. We learn T’Challa became terminally ill, eventually succumbing to his disease before Shuri and her team could synthesize a new version of the Heart-Shaped Herb to help save him.

The film never actually reveals what disease T’Challa suffered from, however. A newscast segment simply refers to it as an undisclosed illness. Did he, like Boseman, battle an aggressive form of cancer, or was it another disease entirely? Is cancer something even Wakanda’s science has yet to conquer? Or was this the MCU’s version of vibranium sickness from the comics?

We also wonder if the events of the previous MCU movies might play into T’Challa’s mysterious illness. Was his body dealing with the side-effects of ingesting and expelling the Heart-Shaped Herb multiple times within the span of a few days? Did being Snapped by Thanos somehow cause lingering damage to T’Challa’s body?

We’ll probably never get answers to these questions, as Wakanda Forever is much more about grieving for Boseman and T’Challa than exploring the actual circumstances behind the character’s death. Still, the film leaves plenty of room for speculation.

What’s the Deal With Riri’s Vibranium Detector?

Riri Williams and her homemade vibranium detector are definitely the twin MacGuffins of Wakanda Forever. Riri herself is basically the film’s answer to America Chavez, as our heroes are forced to protect her from an all-powerful force bent on killing her. But the sequel leaves some major, unanswered questions regarding the origins of her invention.

For one thing, how the heck did Riri even manage to build a machine that detects a metal found almost nowhere on Earth outside of Wakanda and Talokan? Where did she acquire a sample to calibrate her device in the first place?

And even more importantly, who was this mystery professor who sold the machine to the government? This could be the work of Tim Blake Nelson’s The Leader, setting the stage for Captain America: New World Order. On the other hand, we’ve been wrong about him before.

There seems to be some important back-story to Riri’s machine and Lake Bell’s character, Dr. Graham, that the film never gets around to exploring. Maybe the upcoming Ironheart series will dig a little deeper into Riri’s previous misadventures and the circumstances leading into Wakanda Forever.

Maybe the upcoming Ironheart series will dig a little deeper into Riri’s previous misadventures and the circumstances leading into Wakanda Forever.

Whose Bright Idea Was It to Fight Talokan in the Ocean?

Wakanda Forever’s climax features an epic sea battle between the armies of Wakanda and Talokan. Which naturally raises an important question – why would Wakanda make the strategic blunder of battling Namor’s people in their home environment? Why fight the aquatic super-people in the ocean, when it’s clear they rely heavily on whales and the cover of water to overwhelm their opponents?

It’s not exactly the smartest play Wakanda’s elite military has ever made. One could argue that the goal was to lure Talokan into a false sense of security by using Riri’s machine as a trap. But it’s still a decision that resulted in a lot of Wakandan casualties and hinged way too much on the premise that Shuri’s Namor trap would work. Had she not lucked out by catching Namor in an engine blast, everyone on the Wakandan ship would have been massacred. Why not simply set up the Namor trap on land and wait for the Talokanil to attack Wakanda again? Namor even said he’d be back in one week.

Is M’Baku Really the New King?

Wakanda Forever ends with a surprise shake-up to the kingdom’s political structure. While Shuri may have claimed the mantle of Black Panther, she seems to have no interest in ruling Wakanda as its queen. Instead, M’Baku shows up to participate in the ceremonial challenge, suggesting the throne is about to pass to the leader of the Jabari Tribe.

What exactly does this mean for Wakanda going forward? Traditionally, the King of Wakanda and the Black Panther are one and the same, but it appears that’s no longer the case.

It is worth remembering that T’Challa became Black Panther while his father still ruled, so there’s some precedent for the roles being split. Not to mention the time Ramonda spent as Queen. And the film does make a strong case for M’Baku as king, given that he was the only person urging a peaceful, level-headed response to the Talokanil threat.

Still, this twist creates a lot of uncertainty around Wakanda’s political future. We also have to wonder how much Letitia Wright’s behind-the-scenes controversies may have played into this ending. Is Marvel pivoting away from making Wright the new face of the franchise?

The film does make a strong case for M’Baku as king, given that he was the only person urging a peaceful, level-headed response to the Talokanil threat.

Why Does Vibranium Affect Talokanil and Wakandans Differently?

The MCU’s Talokan is far different from the Atlantis of the Marvel Comics universe. This underwater kingdom is given a revamped origin story in Wakanda Forever, as we learn the first Talokanil were 16th Century Mayans desperately fleeing the Spanish conquistadors. From their isolationist culture to their advanced, vibranium-based technology to the fact that they worship a jaguar god, the Talokanil are clearly meant to mirror Wakandans.

But there is one pretty major difference between the two nations. Talokan’s people have all been transformed from ordinary humans into super-strong sea-dwellers, whereas Wakandans are (as far as we know) perfectly ordinary on a genetic level. That’s despite living in an ecosystem steeped in vibranium and consuming plants and animals also exposed to vibranium. Even the Black Panther merely gains enhanced strength and senses from the Heart-Shaped Herb, and that transformation is easily reversible.

Why does vibranium affect Talokanil physiology so much more than it does the Wakandans? Is the plant that the Talokanil discovered really so different from the Heart-Shaped Herb? Or is the fact that a Mayan god was involved a clue that this plant has special, mystical properties? Above all, what does this mean for Shuri now that she’s ingested the synthetic herb based on Talokan’s plant? Will she begin to exhibit strange new powers?

Is Vibranium the Source of Mutation in the MCU?

Now that Disney has completed its acquisition of 21st Century Fox, there’s a small but growing list of mutant characters beginning to appear in the MCU. Namor is the first to specifically refer to himself as a mutant. As he relays his tragic personal history to Shuri, Namor reveals that exposure to the vibranium-infused plant in the womb radically altered his DNA. He’s neither human nor Talokanil, but a mutant who possesses incredible strength, very slow aging and the ability to fly and breathe in both water and air.

Obviously, Wakanda Forever has major implications for the MCU as the journey toward a proper X-Men movie continues. But perhaps the biggest question raised in the sequel is whether vibranium itself is responsible for the creation of the mutant gene. Will other characters like Wolverine and Magneto be revealed to have been exposed to vibranium in the womb? Or is Namor effectively patient zero, and his descendants have spent the past 500 years spreading the mutant gene across the globe? Thanks to Ms. Marvel’s season finale, we know other mutants are beginning to emerge.

For more on the Namor/X-Men connection, find out how Huerta’s character could set the stage for this mutant superhero team in the MCU.

What Happens to Ross Now?

Everett K. Ross undergoes quite the bumpy journey in Wakanda Forever. We learn that Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ mysterious Valentina Allegra de Fontaine is both the Director of the CIA and Ross’ ex-wife. Ross is forced to choose between serving his country and his loyalty to his friends in Wakanda, and in the end, his ex is the one who happily arrests him for treason.

When last we see Ross in the sequel, he’s being liberated by Okoye and presumably being relocated to Wakanda. Ross looks to be a man without a country now – a political refugee given sanctuary in Wakanda. Where does the character go from here? Will he live out his days as an ex-pat, or will he try to clear his name and return to duty?

And given that Martin Freeman’s character will be appearing in the upcoming Secret Invasion series, how will that show build on the events of Wakanda Forever?

We also can’t help but wonder why Shuri and Okoye would risk an international incident by liberating Ross. Wakanda is already in a precarious place right now, and is one “colonizer’s” freedom worth risking open conflict with the US? At the very least, couldn’t they have been a little more stealthy about exfiltrating Ross?

Will Director De Fontaine Attack Wakanda?

After a handful of appearances that mostly involve recruiting impressionable young heroes to join the Thunderbolts, Valentina Allegra de Fontaine returns to play a much more substantial role in Wakanda Forever.

We have a much clearer grasp on her motivations now. Director De Fontaine has tasked herself with preserving national security at all costs, and she has her eyes on Wakanda’s massive stash of vibranium.

The sequel strongly suggests that it’s only a matter of time before the US and other nations make another play for Wakanda’s vibranium. In fact, that could very well be the premise of 2024’s Thunderbolts movie. Will Director De Fontaine dispatch her new team to Wakanda under the pretext of defending American interests? Maybe Wakanda’s decision to “kidnap” her ex-husband is all the political excuse she needs.

That would certainly put Bucky in an interesting predicament in the movie. He, like Ross, owes a great deal to Shuri and her team.

If Director De Fontaine does launch an invasion of Wakanda, does that mean the US will also stumble into a war with Talokan? At this point, The Thunderbolts may wind up being a Black Panther sequel in all but name.

Will Toussaint Eventually Become Black Panther?

Wakanda Forever saves its biggest surprise for last. The film’s mid-credits scene reveals the real reason Nakia has spent the past six years running a school in Haiti. She and T’Challa had a son, whose cover identity “Toussaint” is a nod to revolutionary figure François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture. T’Challa specifically wanted his son to be raised outside of the public spotlight. Given everything that happens in this movie, that was probably the right call.

How will Toussaint factor into future Black Panther films, if at all? Given his young age, it’s not as if this character will be stepping up to replace M’Baku or Shuri anytime soon. At this point, we don’t know if Marvel has specific plans for Toussaint or if he’s simply meant to be a reminder that T’Challa’s legacy lives on in the MCU.

We wouldn’t necessarily write off the possibility that Toussaint is being positioned as the new Black Panther of the MCU. Both Marvel and DC have long track records of using time-travel and other storytelling loopholes as an excuse to rapidly age young characters to adulthood. Avengers: Endgame already ensured that Scott Lang’s daughter Cassie is now old enough to become a size-changing superhero, and who knows what effects Avengers: Secret Wars may have on the MCU timeline?

It’s also interesting that T’Challa is the latest in a growing line of MCU heroes to become parents. Morgan Stark is the daughter of the late Tony Stark. Scarlet Witch magically conjured her sons into being. Even Thor has an adopted daughter now thanks to Thor: Love and Thunder. At some point this stops being a coincidence and starts looking like a case of Marvel teeing up the next generation of Avengers.

Those are our biggest questions about Wakanda Forever, but what about you? Where do you hope to see the Black Panther saga head in Phase 5? Let us know what you think in the comments. And for more on Black Panther 2, check out ‘s review of the sequel and find out what the story would have been prior to Boseman’s death.


Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for . Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.


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