black panther

For the Throne

Who is the new Black Panther in Wakanda Forever? It’s more complicated than you think

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever crowns a new Black Panther — but how long will they keep the role?

A new Black Panther is crowned in Marvel’s latest epic, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. But who is officially wearing the mask? Most importantly, will they still be Black Panther when the evil Kang the Conqueror comes knocking in the next Avengers movie?

While the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is known only to the top brass at Marvel Studios, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever sets a pretty clear path forward for both Wakanda and the Black Panther mantle for the next few years.

With Avengers: The Kang Dynasty opening in 2025 and Avengers: Secret Wars in 2026, the MCU will need Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to assemble once more. The Black Panther is sure to join their ranks, but Wakanda Forever leaves the door open for quite a few different options.

Here’s who takes up the mantle in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and how the movie’s ending actually creates several other strong candidates to consider for the future.

Warning: Spoilers for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever ahead.

Who is the new Black Panther in Wakanda Forever?

Danai Gurira and Letitia Wright return in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.Marvel Studios

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, directed by Ryan Coogler, carefully interweaves the real-life passing of actor Chadwick Boseman. Left without its king and a Black Panther to protect it, Wakanda is now vulnerable to outside forces. That includes Namor (Tenoch Huerta), the cunning ruler of the secretive undersea kingdom Talokan who threatens to wipe Wakanda off the face of the Earth in an effort to keep Talokan’s own vibranium resources secret. (Namor blames Wakanda for revealing vibranium’s existence to the world, thus putting a target on his own nation’s back.)

To fight back, T’Challa’s younger sister Shuri (played by Letitia Wright) undergoes a personal journey of grief and growth. After initially claiming that the Black Panther is gone, she ultimately cracks the code to create a synthetic version of the Heart-Shaped Herb, which was completely wiped out by Killmonger in the original Black Panther.

Shuri becomes Black Panther, at least for now. But as Wakanda Forever closes, the MCU includes some alternate plans in case Letitia Wright chooses not to continue in the Marvel franchise (or, more realistically, she has any more troublesome opinions that Disney doesn’t want to have to do any PR damage control over).

Ok, but who’s actually the new Black Panther?

Nothing is certain, and until Marvel says otherwise, the answer is still Shuri. But let’s run through some other options.

First, there’s M’Baku, played by Winston Duke. While M’Baku did once have his eyes set on the throne, it was less about amassing more power for himself — he already rules over the Jabari, anyway — and more about providing functional stability to an unstable nation. Wakanda needs a king, M’Baku argues, and he simply felt he was the right man for the job.

With the threat of Talokan thwarted, Wakanda Forever closes with a new “Challenge Day” for kingship. While M’Baku crashes the challenge again, this time, he’s sent on behalf of Shuri who “sends her regards.” It’s unclear if M’Baku is speaking for Shuri, or if Shuri is offering M’Baku some kind of authority, but it’s clear that M’Baku isn’t too far behind the throne.

Winston Duke, as M’Baku, also returns in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.Marvel Studios

There’s also the matter of the mid-credits scene, in which Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o) reveals she is a mother to T’Challa’s son... who is also named T’Challa. With the Marvel Cinematic Universe prone to things like time travel and time skips, not to mention the multiverse, it’s not hard to fathom an adult T’Challa Jr. assuming the role of Black Panther in Avengers: Secret Wars. Marvel basically found an opportunity to have a new actor play T’Challa without actually recasting Chadwick Boseman. It’s either clever or craven depending on your own mileage.

Shuri is likely to be Black Panther until at least the next crossover opportunity. It’s plausible she’ll cameo or play a supporting role in another Marvel thing sooner than later. (There’s an Ironheart series coming to Disney+, remember.) Whether she remains as Black Panther through Kang’s invasion — or survives it — is known only to the most powerful of the Marvel Universe. Too bad She-Hulk can’t break into K.E.V.I.N. and ask him for us.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is now playing in theaters.