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What To Expect From Black Panther 2

Black Panther is one of the most beloved and acclaimed films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and there will never be another quite like it. Sadly, we can say this with certainty, because the man who embodied King T'Challa of Wakanda, the great Chadwick Boseman, passed away in 2020 after a secret, four-year struggle with cancer. Although Black Panther 2 had been announced well before his death — Boseman was, in fact, gearing up to begin training for the film when his illness took a turn for the worse — the entire project quickly became one big question mark after the star's death. 

Many questions still remain, but this much we know: Black Panther 2 will still happen, with the first film's creative mastermind Ryan Coogler returning to write and direct. It was announced in December 2020 (via Collider) that the sequel is slated to hit the big screen on July 8, 2022. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the flick will begin shooting in Atlanta in July 2021, a shoot which is expected to last for six months or more — which must mean that Marvel has its post-production team ready to hit the ground running, as the window between filming and release will be pretty tight.

THR also reports that Narcos: Mexico's Tenoch Huerta has joined the cast in an undisclosed villain role, and that cast members from the first film expected to return include Letitia Wright as Shuri, Lupita Nyong'o as Nakia, Winston Duke as M'Baku, and Angela Bassett as Queen Ramonda. Daniel Kaluuya, who appeared as T'Challa's friend and head of security W'Kabi, has also indicated to ET Canada that he'll appear in the second installment, and, although she hasn't given a hard yes, Danai Gurira has also strongly hinted that her Dora Milaje chief Okoye will also return (via MovieWeb).

Chadwick Boseman won't be recast or replaced via CGI

One actor who we know won't be appearing in Black Panther 2, unless it's via archival footage: Boseman, although fans can be forgiven for having a bit of suspicion. Disney has proven willing in the past to bend over backwards to get deceased actors back onto the screen (Carrie Fisher appearing one last time as General Leia in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker pops to mind), and the thought of a Black Panther film without Boseman seems about as unthinkable as an Iron Man movie without Robert Downey, Jr.

Of course, Black Panther is a mantle, a title that has been held by Wakandan kings for generations — so for another to take on that title at least makes narrative sense. We can say with near-certainty that this passing of the torch will be a focus of Black Panther 2, as Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige has made it crystal clear that Boseman's legacy is not to be tinkered with. Speaking to Deadline in January 2021, Feige said, "We're not going to have a CG Chadwick and we're not recasting T'Challa. Ryan Coogler is working very hard right now on the script with all the respect and love and genius that he has, which gives us great solace, so it was always about furthering the mythology and the inspiration of Wakanda. There's also the task of honoring and respecting the ongoing [...] teachings from Chad as well."

We can also safely say that when you head out to the theater for Black Panther 2, you'll want to bring an extra-large box of tissues, because everyone involved is keen to pay homage to Boseman and the indelible character he created in T'Challa. In his ET Canada chat, Kaluuya said, "We are going to have to honor Chadwick on it and give as much to his legacy as he gave to us, because he gave us everything. He was an incredible man with an incredible soul."

Who will take on the mantle of Black Panther?

As is to be expected, the question of who might be the next Black Panther has been the subject of intense speculation, because the issue is not that there's no obvious choice — it's that there are too many. Much of this speculation has centered on Shuri, T'Challa's whiz kid teenage sister, for the simple fact that there is recent precedent for the character taking on the mantle of Black Panther in the comics. Shuri is young, though, and relatively inexperienced in both diplomacy and combat — so she's not necessarily the obvious choice.

There's also the question of who among the cast of Black Panther 2 might be the most capable of carrying future installments, and in that respect, there is one clear front-runner. Nyong'o is an Oscar-winning actress, an absolute force onscreen; she's appeared in a voice role in the Star Wars sequel films, and appeared in lead roles in not one, but two films in 2019 (the horror-comedy Little Monsters and Jordan Peele's brilliant psychological horror flick Us). As to her character, Nakia has proven herself to be quite formidable in combat, and, as a career spy, she's likely to be quite familiar with the ins and outs of various world governments, their intelligence agencies, and even their diplomatic channels. For our money, the mantle of Black Panther is hers to lose — and there is likely to be competition. M'Baku, W'Kabi, and Okoye, warriors all, might feel a certain sense of entitlement to the throne, and they could each present a pretty strong case.

This is to say that it's doubtful there will be one clear, consensus choice among the various Wakandan power players as to who the next Black Panther should be, so we're likely to get a good, hard look at the inner workings of Wakandan culture and politics in Black Panther 2. Fortunately, we're also going to get some compelling supplemental material along those lines in the near future.

There's likely to be a strong connection to the Disney+ Wakanda series

In February 2021, it was announced (via Deadline) that Coogler and his production company, Proximity Media, have inked a 5-year deal to produce television content across multiple platforms for Disney — and since Coogler is a welcome player in the MCU's sandbox, his strong focus is likely to be with the burgeoning slate of Disney+ series set in the MCU and produced by Marvel Studios (as opposed to previous Marvel series, which were produced by the now-defunct Marvel Television). Coogler's statement following the announcement certainly bears that out; it read, in part: "We are especially excited that we will be taking our first leap with Kevin Feige, Louis D'Esposito, Victoria Alonso and their partners at Marvel Studios where we will be working closely with them on select MCU shows for Disney+. We're already in the mix on some projects that we can't wait to share."

In fact, we already know what Coogler's first assignment will be: to develop a Disney+ series set in Wakanda, one for which Black Panther 2 will presumably do a more than a little bit of table-setting. While Disney and Marvel have offered exactly zero details on the new series (which is still in the very early stages of development), there's decades worth of comics lore from which to draw — and it's safe to say we can expect to see deep-dive explorations of Wakanda's tribes, military, scientific sector, and much more.

Of course, we'll likely have an idea of where Coogler and his team will be taking the future of Wakanda in the MCU once production on Black Panther 2 gets underway. When it does, we'll be keeping our finger on the pulse, and we'll be here with all the news that's fit to report.