Thanos snapped half of Earth’s population out of existence at the end of Avengers: Infinity War, including Black Panther and sister Shuri. By the time Endgame rolled around and the Avengers brought everyone back, five years had already passed. So, who was leading T’Challa’s beloved Wakanda during that time? A thoughtful new theory reveals who became king of Wakanda in the interim and how that will come into play in Black Panther 2.
Speculative spoilers ahead for the Black Panther sequel.
Black Panther laid out exactly how leaders were chosen in Wakanda. While kings were often chosen through royal bloodlines, a warrior from any one of the four tribes could challenge T’Challa for the throne. We saw that happen with T’Challa and Killmonger.
However, following the events of Infinity War and Endgame, traditions may have changed out of necessity. While it could be that Wakanda was left without a king for five years, a well-known and worthy character may have risen to the challenge in T’Challa’s absence.
Reddit user Dreadful_menace theorizes that M’Baku became the king of Wakanda, ruling in T’Challa’s place. After all, with both Black Panther and Shuri gone, the line of succession was broken, leaving the throne abandoned. The theorist argues that the first film clearly established that M’Baku was just as skilled as T’Challa and that he “may have taken the throne not out of personal reasons but of necessity.”
While M’Baku showed no desire to work alongside T’Challa in Black Panther, he eventually showed up to help, bringing his own army with him. What’s more, M’Baku was at the frontlines in the fight against Thanos, showcasing his strength and capability on the battlefield. His resilience and willingness to do what was right for his people makes him the obvious choice as ruler, so it makes sense that he would rise to the occasion in the wake of T’Challa’s presumed death.
While M’Baku is a worthy choice for king of Wakanda, T’Challa’s return potentially sets up a major confrontation for Black Panther 2. After all, now that T’Challa is back following the events of Endgame, he’ll want to take back the throne, after possibly ruling for five years, M’Baku may be unwilling to abandon his new responsibilities. A lot has changed in the five years after the snap, and there’s no way that Wakanda can just revert to how things used to be.
It’s possible M’Baku and T’Challa will duke it out for the throne in the sequel or, at the very least, will argue about how to move forward. Perhaps T’Challa will rely on tradition, as he has in the past, while M’Baku will argue that he’s been making the hard decisions while he was gone. While the two have been shown to be at odds with each other before, they’ve set aside their differences for the good of Wakanda and are sensible enough to eventually come to a conclusion that will benefit everyone. Either way, it’s a tough call and an issue that could likely be at the forefront of the Black Panther sequel.
Black Panther 2 is scheduled to hit theaters in May 2022.