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Black Panther Fans Are Looking To M'Baku To Lead After Wakanda Forever

Contains major spoilers for "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever"

After years of anticipation, "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" has finally been unleashed into cinemas. The latest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, "Wakanda Forever" marks the first time the franchise has acknowledged the passing of T'Challa. Actor Chadwick Boseman tragically passed away in 2020, radically changing the direction of the second "Black Panther" flick. The film's script was rewritten, acknowledging T'Challa's in-universe death, with the final product focused on finding his successor.

Praised by Looper for serving as a beautiful tribute to the late Boseman, "Wakanda Forever" wraps up on an open-ended note, leaving it unclear as to who will reign supreme as Wakanda's leader and Black Panther. The final act of the film sees Shuri (Letitia Wright), T'Challa's sister, assuming the mantle of Wakanda's sacred protector after creating the synthetic herb used to instill the powers of the Black Panther. Despite being next in line for the throne of Wakanda following the passing of her mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett), Shuri decides to not attend the coronation ceremony, instead allowing Jabari leader M'Baku (Winston Duke) to take her place.

It's unclear if M'Baku has received Shuri's blessings to become the next leader of Wakanda, or if he's simply in charge until the Black Panther returns to her ancestral land. While the future of Wakanda and "Black Panther" is unkown, fans are hoping that M'Baku is the one set to lead the powerful nation.

M'Baku is a fan favorite contender for Wakanda's throne

In a r/Movies thread discussing "Wakanda Forever," several users opened up about how they would like to see Winston Duke's M'Baku as the next leader of Wakanda. Though M'Baku's role is limited in the sequel, the character clearly puts his best foot forward to quell the conflict between Wakanda and the underwater kingdom of Talokan. His natural inclination to be calm, and reverence for the spiritual plane make him the perfect successor according to user u/drneilpretenamen. The Reddit user continued by speculating that the future of the "Black Panther" franchise rests on M'Baku, saying, "This movie was 100% Shuri's as a way to dedicate it to Boseman, but the next one is all [M'Baku's]."

u/Uncanny_Doom suggests that Duke's character is now the leader of Wakanda by default, adding fuel to the fire that the franchise is now M'Baku's for the taking, saying, "I thought it was that he and Shuri had a clear agreement because she didn't go [to the ceremony] and thus won't answer the challenge. So unless someone else wants to fight him he's king by default." u/drneilpretenamen echoed a similar sentiment, acknowledging that Shuri was right to not assume the role of leader. "I also wondered ... if this was something M'Baku and Shuri had agreed upon ahead of time. That Shuri willingly [gave] up the throne as a result of her near descent into blind vengeance in the battle with Namor," they said. M'Baku has proven time and time again that he is a competent and worthy leader, seeing as the Jabari land has been a safe haven for Wakandans multiple times.

What about Shuri?

While M'Baku seems to be the future ruler of Wakanda, fans aren't completely married to the idea that Winston Duke's character is the new Black Panther. Despite Shuri briefly turning to the dark side, fans want her to continue as Black Panther On the r/MarvelStudiosSpoilers subreddit, "Black Panther" fans began to discuss what's next for the monarchy. u/vincentdmartin says they "figured it would be M'Baku [as] King and Shuri [as] BP. Let the King do kingly stuff while BP does Superhero stuff." u/Afwife1992 echoed a similar statement, saying Shuri "never wanted to lead, was never trained for it and we saw [M'Baku] advising throughout. Her stepping up as BP and having M'Baku serve as king made a lot of sense to me."

On the other hand, some fans think that M'Baku's stint as Wakanda's leader is only temporary. u/ironwilledstrength suggests that "M'Baku most likely is just leading Wakanda while Shuri takes time to finally grieve in a healthy way. I highly doubt she doesn't return to Wakanda as its queen." The future of the "Black Panther" franchise has never been more exciting with M'Baku's appointment. "Wakanda Forever" concludes with the mic-drop mid-credits scene that T'Challa has a young child (Divine Love Konadu-Sun). Could T'Challa's next of kin one day challenge M'Baku for the throne just as the Jabari leader once did with the former King? Only time will tell what's next for "Black Panther" and Marvel Studios.