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Black Panther 2 Release Date, Villain, Cast, Rumors And More

Marvel Studios' 2018 megahit film Black Panther was a pretty big deal in a lot of ways. The highest-grossing film of 2018Black Panther was ultimately received seven Academy Awards nominations, becoming the first superhero movie to be nominated for Best Picture. Outside of being a critical and commercial success, Black Panthewas also a cultural milestone, with Carvell Wallace of The New York Times calling the film "a defining moment for black America." But what of the its heavily anticipated follow-up?

While Disney and Marvel have been hoarding concrete details to themselves — much like Wakandans guarding their secret stores of Vibraniam — there is plenty for superhero-obsessed fans to speculate about. From possible villains to returning cast members, from potential comic book influences to story implications from the greater MCU at large, the hype level surrounding Black Panther 2 is sky high. 

What kind of perilous adventures lie in wait for T'Challa, Shuri, and the rest of the monarch's entourage? No matter what direction Marvel intends to take with the King of Wakanda, audiences everywhere will be hoping for more excitement from director Ryan Coogler, another soundtrack filled to the brim with killer beats, and a return of one of the most iconic catchphrases of the past decade: "Wakanda forever!"

Black Panther 2's release date

Eagle-eyed Marvel fans would have been forgiven for assuming Black Panther 2 would be part of Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It would've made sense for the Mouse House to bank on Black Panther to lead the charge going forward, with Iron Man and Captain America out of commission (even moreso now that Spider-Man's availability is seemingly out of the cards). 

Disney has had a bunch of release dates carved out for untitled Marvel films from 2020 to 2021 for a long time, but Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige shocked everyone in Hollywood by leaving Black Panther 2 out of the comic book titan's plans for the next few years, as revealed at San Diego Comic-Con in July 2019. Though Feige did confirm at the end of the studio's Hall H panel that Black Panther 2 is on the way (along with Captain Marvel 2Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3Fantastic FourX-Men, and Blade), it won't be ready in time for Phase 4.

At Disney's D23 Expo in August 2019, Feige and Coogler finally dropped a date for Black Panther 2's Phase 5 release: May 6th, 2022.

Ryan Coogler returns

It's safe to say Black Panther would never have been the outrageous hit that it was without fearless director Ryan Coogler at the helm. Coogler's confident directorial voice was nothing short of essential to the success of the film, so his return as writer/director is a huge deal and a big get for Marvel. Coogler brought a unique sense of style and vision to Black Panther, refusing to take on the job if he could not work with his own collaborators to make the project stand out from other Marvel films. In fact, Coogler went out of his way to create a story for Black Panther that was as intimate as it was epic, saying it was "a great creative challenge to me — to make this movie as personal as possible."

Coogler has shared some insight about where he would like the character to go in the sequel, saying, "I'd be really interested to see, you know, what kind of king he is with experience and how that affects his performance in the stories." In March 2018, Feige added there was "nothing specific to reveal" in terms of a sequel, but that there "absolutely" were "ideas and a pretty solid direction on where we want to head with the second one." While we know almost nothing about the sequel's plot, with Coogler following his formula from the first film — story over spectacle — it is safe to say Black Panther 2 is in good hands.

What can the comics tell us about Black Panther 2's story?

Despite being around for more than half a century, Black Panther has not been a household name until very recently. While heroes like Spider-Man and Batman have had numerous uninterrupted books running continuously for what seems like an eternity in pop culture standards, Black Panther's comic book runs have stopped and started, sputtering in-and-out of comic book nerd consciousness for decades. But regardless of publication status, the character has always been an important fixture in the Marvel Universe, and there have been plenty of well-regarded storylines through the decades, offering up plenty of potential source material for the creative minds behind Black Panther 2

Starting in 2016, MacArthur Genius and National Book Award winner Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of Between the World and Me, took over writing duties on Black Panther's ongoing series. The most well-regarded arc he has written is called "A Nation Under Our Feet," and tells the story of a time of major change in Wakanda, and King T'Challa's attempt to do what's right for his subjects. As you no doubt know from the film, Wakanda's identity as a country is all wrapped up in its traditions, its super-tech, and its secrecy. But when a bunch of homegrown super-terrorists going by the name "The People" threaten everything that's defined the country for as long as anyone can remember, T'Challa is challenged with figuring out how the nation can adapt and survive in the aftermath of the People's violent rebellion. 

Delving further into the unique ways of life on display in Wakanda could be an interesting thing to touch on in Black Panther 2. It would be no surprise if the filmmakers turn to the pages of these recent successful books for direction.

Chadwick Boseman suits up for Black Panther 2

Before being cast as T'challa's Black Panther for 2016's Captain America: Civil War, Chadwick Boseman was once best known for guest starring in shows like Law & OrderCSI: NY, and ER. Boseman got his first big career break with his lead role in 2013's 42 as Jackie Robinson, a performance that earned him both praise from critics and mainstream clout. This put him on Marvel's radar, leading to the announcement of his casting in the fall of 2014. 

After the events of Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, it'll be interesting to see where T'Challa fits in the overall narrative of the MCU. Considering Black Panther's importance in the cultural zeitgeist and the exit of founding MCU stars like Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans, Boseman is poised to have a big role to play over the next decade. Don't try getting any information out of the actor on his future in the franchise, though. As one red carpet reporter in April 2019 found out, Boseman is happy to play coy with details on the future of his character. When asked about Black Panther 2, Boseman merely responded with one repeated statement: "I'm dead." Remember, at the time, T'Challa had been dusted by Thanos' snap and had not yet "blipped" back into existence. Now that the king has returned, perhaps we can expect Boseman to start loosening his lips.

Danai Gurira will be back as Okoye for Black Panther 2

Danai Gurira burst onto the Marvel scene with her role as Okoye in Black Panther, a role she has gone on to reprise in both Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame. Before being cast in Black Panther, Gurira was best known for playing fan-favorite Michonne on AMC's The Walking Dead. Gurira shines as a driven, sword-wielding badass who up with a batch of survivors of the zombie apocalypse. Everyone loves a katana.

Grounded by Gurira's strong delivery, Okoye became a member of the Avengers team headed by Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow after the events of Avengers: Infinity War. Now that she's formed these new alliances, will other Avengers have a role to play in Black Panther 2? The first film felt pretty secluded from the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe — save for the post-credits scene — but that could change as having characters cross over has become the norm for Marvel Studios. At any rate, Gurira's schedule will be a little freer with her exit from The Walking Dead after season 10, and she has made it clear that whatever's next for Okoye, she'll be there. "[Ryan Coogler] knows what he's doing," she reassured Entertainment Weekly. "I'm very sure of that."

Letitia Wright returns as Shuri for Black Panther 2

Letitia Wright became an immediate fan favorite with her role as Shuri in Black Panther, a role she reprised briefly in both Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame. Shuri is T'Challa's teenage sister who happens to be a technological mastermind with an intelligence level that rivals major Marvel geniuses like Tony Stark and Bruce Banner. Wright was very excited for the opportunity to play Shuri, telling Interview Magazine, "Look, there's a young black girl who loves technology and she's from Africa. It's something refreshing." 

Shuri was such a hit with viewers around the world, she has gone on to inspire her own ongoing comic series published by Marvel starting in October 2018. The series is a well-received mix of the MCU's strengths and the universe fleshed out by decades of storytelling in Marvel's comic books. Wright has been confirmed to return in Black Panther 2, to the delight of fans everywhere.

Who else is headed back to Wakanda for Black Panther 2?

There has yet to be much concrete news regarding the rest of the cast for Black Panther 2, but many fans are hoping to see their favorites return to the franchise. Lupita Nyong'o likely tops most wishlists — her careful work to make Nakia more than a mere love interest made her a standout. She was missing in action during the events of Infinity War and Endgame, raising questions about where we might catch up with her in a sequel. 

What of Martin Freeman's Everett Ross, the member of the Central Intelligence Agency who appeared in both Civil War and Black Panther? Last we saw him, he was celebrating T'Challa's outreach to the United Nations after helping defend Wakanda. Or Daniel Kaluuya's W'Kabi, confidant and best friend to T'Challa who is the head of security for the Border Tribe? Last we saw him, he was having to deal with the repercussions of betraying his friend and king.

Then there's Angela Bassett's Ramonda, T'Challa and Shuri's mother, the Queen Mother of Wakanda? She was last seen celebrating with her children in Wakanda after the defeat of Thanos at the end of Avengers: Endgame. Winston Duke's M'Baku, former rival turned ally to T'Challa, relished in Endgame's climactic battle. Fans will be clamoring to see what has become of characters they've grown to cherish in the time since Black Panther's release.

Could Killmonger return for Black Panther 2?

At the end of Black PantherMichael B. Jordan's sympathetic villain Erik "Killmonger" Stevens seemingly dies after a hard-fought battle with his cousin T'Challa, finally getting to see the sunset his father used to tell him about as a boy. It was a fitting end to a truly affecting arc for a villain in a film franchise not exactly known for its nuanced villains. This appeared to close the book on Jordan's time in the MCU, but what if that wasn't the case?

According to a leak about Marvel's MCU Phase Four, Jordan could actually return as Killmonger for the Black Panther sequel. A rumor claims Jordan's character won't be resurrected, but will exist in Wakanda's "spiritual plane" in the same way T'Challa's father T'Chaka does during some very emotional scenes in the original film. Whether the leak is true or not, this does seem to add up, as Killmonger was technically a Black Panther for a brief period, and all of the Black Panthers' spirits reside together in the afterlife. If Jordan does return for a cameo, prepare for fans to freak out over the promise of a conversational confrontation between T'Challa and Killmonger.

Possible Black Panther 2 villains

With the two most notable villains in Black Panther's comic book history (Killmonger and Ulysses Klaue) both killed in the first film, it will be interesting to see what villains Coogler and Marvel decide to throw into the mix this time around. One option could be Achebe. Originally an impoverished farmer hailing from South Africa, Achebe made a deal with Mephisto, Marvel's all-purpose version of the Devil: his soul in exchange for otherworldly brain power when it comes to strategy and planning. That brain power also comes at a cost in addition to his soul, however, and that's thinking that his hand-puppet, Daki, is actually a real boy. Creator Christopher Priest has noted that Achebe was inspired by Hannibal Lecter and Die Hard's Hans Gruber, and that he is "the Joker to Panther's Batman."

Then again, one of the most exciting potential antagonists is Namor, the Sub-Mariner. This king of the sea has a history of conflict with Wakanda on the comics page, and fans believe a line of dialogue in Endgame may have even been teasing his entry to the MCU.

What about Kendrick Lamar?

A massive contributor to Black Panther's status as a truly significant moment in pop culture, Black Panther: The Album was a smash hit that hearkened back to a time when film soundtracks outside of musicals actually mattered. The album debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200, eventually ending 2018 as the 12th best selling album of the year and officially going platinum. Ryan Coogler, Top Dawg Entertainment CEO Anthony Tiffith, producer Sounwave, and curator/artist Kendrick Lamar deserve credit for assembling such a powerful compilation out of a major motion picture tie-in, capturing the spirit of the film in its own unique ways and creating some very successful singles. 

Sounwave has praised Marvel for giving the team full creative control over the project... which hasn't always been the case at Marvel Studios and certainly is not par for the course at Disney. Whether the creative team behind Black Panther: The Album returns to do a soundtrack for the sequel is still up in the air, but if they decide to pass on the project, here's hoping another group of talented artists will step up. Having such a unique sonic through-line in Black Panther doubtlessly added to the movie's massive success, and Black Panther 2 should follow that trend as opposed to bucking it.

What will Black Panther 2 mean for the MCU?

Black Panther is currently the highest-grossing non-Avengers superhero film of all time. With the end of the Infinity Saga now officially in the rearview mirror after the releases of both Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far from Home, Black Panther will have an opportunity to carry the Marvel torch into the future. With Thor returning to space alongside the Guardians and most of his original teammates either deceased or retired, T'Challa is now the quintessential A-tier earthbound superhero going into the studio's Phase Four slate. Sure, Spider-Man is still there, but Peter Parker is a high school kid who can barely ask a girl out on a date, while T'Challa is the king of the most advanced nation on Earth. Which of these two characters seems poised to take over as the most important Avenger? 

Everything was all smiles and celebrations at the end of Avengers: Endgame, but as the post-credit sequences in Spider-Man: Far from Home show, everything is not as simple as they seem. After the introduction of the Kree and Skrulls in Captain Marvel, you can bet some space-faring derring-do is on the way. Luckily for T'Challa, this seems to be par for the course nowadays. No matter where Phase Four leads Marvel Studios, the Black Panther will be there to walk them down the right path.