The world’s most powerful country is disturbed, to put it simply, after two years of conjecture about what a T’Challa-less Wakanda would look like. Following the San Diego Comic-Con, we received our first look at Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
If the movie was to be successful, everything was done after Chadwick Boseman’s passing had to not only tie into it but also elevate it as the Panther-themed icon of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, leaving behind an indelible legacy.
And after seeing the clip, it is reasonable to conclude that King T’Challa would have been both proud and troubled by the warriors that had assembled in his wake. Since the November 2022 release will also feature the introduction of all-new Wakandans, we will also be confronted by the formidable forces of Atlantis.
But who are these brand-new individuals? What role do they play in the narrative? And precisely how will they influence the MCU’s future? This video, Every New Character Appearing in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – Explored, will address all of these questions and more. This is your spoiler alert if you have not seen the trailer yet.
We are beyond thrilled that Dominique Thorne will make her official MCU debut in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever by donning her own version of the Ironheart Mark One. In the comic books, Riri Williams is a brilliant scientist and inventor who has already successfully reverse-engineered Stark technology to produce Iron Man’s armour by the age of 15.
Riri was a top student at MIT and the centre of her university’s orbit, as evidenced by the fact that when she left the institute, their research projects started to fall apart right away, to the point where they had to provide her a personal lab merely to get her to return.
Riri met Wakanda through her conflict with the Ten Rings after taking part in the Second Civil War and defeating the Hydra Captain America with her young Champions allies. Ironheart seeks out Doctor Strange in the comics in an effort to stop the Ten Rings’ use of Shadow creatures by finding the location of the mysterious Wellspring of Power. We feel that this is how the Ironheart character will also become associated with Wakanda in the MCU, so viewers of Thor: Love and Thunder should be sitting up in their seats and paying closer attention.
Given the shots that we see of the various US intelligence agencies in the trailer presumably setting up a treasure hunt of some sort, we can surmise that the government is searching for something. That something could very well end up being the Wellspring of Power, and if that is the case, then the Greatest Country in the World is about to get a LOT of unwelcome visitors because in the comics, that wellspring is located in Wakanda.
In fact, Riri teams up with Shuri and Okoye to take down the Ten Rings- which also includes her father somehow, but that’s for a different video- and is awarded with the Circlet of Bast- Wakanda’s version of the Presidential Medal of Freedom- and free access to the country anytime she wants. The Wakanda Forever trailer gives us two very clear shots of Riri Williams, both of which remind us of previous MCU stalwarts.
The first is her carving out a heart-shaped opening on a sheet of metal that looks exactly like the Mark One armour from Iron Man 1. Looks like the MCU Ironheart’s armour will be paying closer homage to her idol than her comic book counterpart, because in the comics, Ironheart’s arc reactor is, well, over her heart. The second is a handshake he performs with Shuri, who walks into her lab in a scene that might as well be a step-by-step recreation of her interaction with her brother in the first Black Panther movie.
Judging by their clothes, we’re guessing that this scene takes place towards the end of the movie, after Shuri picks up her brother’s mantle, but we’re getting too far ahead of ourselves now. Regardless of how Riri’s story plays out, it’s safe to assume that she will be an integral part of Wakanda Forever and will most likely play the Shuri to Letitia Williams’ T’Challa; and of course, we can’t wait to see how her involvement in the Wakanda-Atlantis War will help set up the Ironheart Disney+ series coming out in 2023.
Alex Livinalli will step into the role of Attuma, and he already looks about as menacing as you’d expect him to be. A member of the Skarka Tribe of Atlantis, from the clips that we saw in the trailer, it appears that Attuma is a war general to Namor, based on the way the MCU likes to usually structure its villainous teams; which is rather surprising because in the comics, Attuma is one of Namor’s biggest enemies.
See, the Skarka tribe, unlike the rest of the Atlanteans, were nomadic in nature and liked to move around quite a bit, never settling in one place for too long. This led to them being viewed as savages and barbarians in the advanced underwater civilization, and after Namor’s fore-bearers managed to band together the rest of the Atlantean tribes under their rule, they banished the Skarka from ever stepping foot in their fabled city, and he oversaw several failed uprisings in an attempt to fulfil his own destiny. Any of this starting to sound familiar to you?
Anyway, it was prophesied in the Skarka Tribe that one day, a boy possessing extraordinary strength, speed and endurance would be born to them, even by Atlantean standards; and this boy was destined to rule over Atlantis, routing Namor’s ancestors and establishing the Skarka as the royal house of Atlantis.
And that boy was Attuma. He fought- and lost to- Namor on several occasions, with his first appearance seeing him trick the Fantastic Four into helping him take out their “common enemy”. But Marvel’s First Family were able to figure out that Attuma was the greater evil, and ended up secretly helping Namor beat him instead. He is Namor’s oldest rival and newest ally in the world of the comics and has admittedly taken over Atlantis a couple of times himself, but in the context of the MCU, Attuma’s backstory closely mirrors that of M’Baku from the Jabari Tribe.
This is only fitting because in one of the few action shots of the trailer, we saw everyone’s favorite Wakandan after Shuri leap off a boat and go straight for Namor. It’s possible that like T’Challa and M’Baku, Attuma and Namor were able to put aside their differences and come together for the greater good of Atlantis, and that is why they are working together in the movie. Either way, he’s going to be a literal heavy hitter in the grand scheme of things, so keep an eye on him. And who knows; he might pull a Loki at the least minute and stab Namor in the back, which would add another layer of unpredictability to the story.
If you happened to catch a glimpse or few of a blue-skinned woman with a drop-dead gorgeous headgear rising through the waters like a majestic beast, then you’ve been introduced to Namora. Originally called Aquaria Nautica Neptunia in the comics, Namora was a human-mutant hybrid like her “cousin”. Her father was an Atlantean man, and her mother a surface woman. When she was young, her father brought her to the royal court, where she soon became fast friends with Prince Namor after she inadvertently taught him a lesson in humility by saving his life when he underestimated her.
Thereafter Namor developed unflinching respect for his companion, who came to be seen as his cousin and was even named Namora; though she wouldn’t fully embrace that title till she lost her father to surface-dwelling treasure-hunters. Filled with a sense of revenge, Aquaria fully embraced the title of Namora- Avenging Daughter in the Atlantean tongue- and joined her “cousin” by his side in his many wars. In the comics, things get rather awkward because it’s revealed that Namora’s deepest desire is to be with her cousin in a romantic capacity.
While there is technically nothing taboo about it, because they share no blood ties, but even when they give it a shot it’s revealed that the power-brokers of Atlantis actually engineered their “relationship”. So Namora never fully realises her love for Namor, which is just as well because it doesn’t look like this is the version of her character that we will get in the movie. Namora and Namor will likely be portrayed as brother and sister, sharing a dynamic very similar to T’Challa and Shuri’s because Namor is meant to be a mirror image of T’Challa.
But with Namora we do get our first glimpses of- drumrolls please- Atlantean technology! In the scene where it looks like she’s turned up with Attuma to lay the smackdown on Okoye and her Dora Milaje, you can clearly see the breathing devices that they use to operate on-land.
And you can also see that Namora uses weaponry similar to the Dora Milaje’s, as her weapon of choice seems to be a spear. It will be interesting to see whether Namora makes it through the story, and where she goes from here if she does. But now, let’s go from a kind-of-Dora-Milaje to someone who used to be the real deal; the keyword here being used to.
Michaela Coel’s casting stirred up a hornet’s nest when it was announced with speculation running rampant as to who she was playing in the movie. Turns out, she’s playing by far one of the most-interesting characters residing in Wakanda from the comics. There, Aneka was the hand-picked combat instructor of the elite Dora Milaje, appointed by T’Challa himself. Aneka was an exceptional warrior who trained most of the Dora Milaje we are familiar with, like Okoye and Ayo, but she was also a fiercely independent and driven woman.
In the comics, she ended up killing the chieftain of a village because of his gross mistreatment of women, which ended up getting her thrown in jail by Queen Ramonda who could not excuse this extrajudicial killing. In the comics, Aneka was in a relationship with Ayo, who tried to speak up for her with the Queen Mother, but it was to no avail. Aneka ended up escaping her prison cell with the help of Ayo who had stolen the Midnight Angel Armours, and the pair set off on their own to realise a Wakanda that was good for all that lived in it; and not just the royal family.
The rogue couple started a rebellion and were successful in capturing many Jabari-Lands before Shuri had to intervene on T’Challa’s behalf and convince them to fulfil their higher duty to all of Wakanda. Wakanda Forever is already going to have a massive war playing out as its main storyline, and while adding a civil war on top of things would make the movie much more intriguing; it just isn’t how Marvel does business these days.
Based on the footage we saw of her, it’s likely that at some point in the past, Aneka was sent on a mission that ended up disillusioning her with her entire life’s mission. As a result, she defected to Atlantis and ended up helping teach them the fighting skills that the Dora Milaje possessed. Marvel is notorious for splicing in flashbacks and opening sequences for their trailers, so it wouldn’t surprise us to find out that the scene we got where Aneka was standing side-by-side with her fellow Wakandans was a flashback.
What’s way more telling is the close-up we get of Ayo, who looks like she has just seen a ghost in front of her eyes; like a long-lost lover has returned, but she’s here to take her head. We already saw that Aneka was wearing blue garb, which is completely different from the standard Dora Milaje uniforms.
In fact, its design is rather reminiscent of the Midnight Angel Armour from the comics; it’s just missing that headgear. If Kevin Feige and Co take this route of storytelling, then it will allow them to develop their characters whilst avoiding crowding the plot with too many elements. Either way, Aneka is one you guys should definitely watch out for, because she will be a key player in the events of the movie. And speaking of key players…
Tenoch Huerta has been cast as the King of Atlantis, Namor, and if we’re being completely honest with you, we’re excited to see his Maya-influenced take on the Sub-Mariner; one of the oldest Marvel super villains in existence. In the comics, Namor is the son of the human Leonard McKenzie and the Atlantean Royal Princess Fen. McKenzie was incidentally on the search for a lost stash of vibranium when he came across the woman who would become the mother of his child, and the future King of Atlantis.
Namor grew up at the royal court of Atlantis and has been taught since birth that his first duty was to his people. Everything else was secondary; including the surface people, which is why he has served as both protagonist and antagonist in several Marvel stories. In the comics, Atlantis and Wakanda fight several wars against each other, with the two advanced civilizations often vying for the top spot.
And while that would seem to be reason enough for Namor’s inclusion to Wakanda Forever, it seems to us that his backstory goes deeper than that. As you might already be aware, Namor’s MCU origins are drastically different to his comic book counterpart’s.
For starters, he isn’t a disciple of Poseidon or Neptune; he’s somehow a worshipped of the Mayan pantheon, as evidenced by the designs on the murals he was studying in a short moment from the trailer. We also get several shots of Namor in traditional garb which makes him look and feel like a badass warrior chief, but the main thing that we want to bring to your attention are three scenes from the trailer that practically parallel each other.
The first is a scene of a young Namor watching a village burn, helplessly. The second is a shot of Namor at the same beachfront, albeit much older. And the third is a shot of Shuri in the throne room, with everything burning down around her. So far, the only information we have on Namor’s plotline is that Mesoamerican religions heavily influence his background and that he will seek out the Wakandans to help him keep his own village safe.
But as we’ve seen already, things won’t exactly play out that way. Our current working theory is that Namor’s village was attacked by Wakandans when he was a child, back when the World’s Greatest Country was more interested in conquest, and that the truce is actually a means for him to exact his revenge.
There were also multiple references to a Jaguar tribe when the movie was first going into production a couple years ago, but every hint of that has been removed from the marketing of the film, which also leads us to believe that this particular tribe didn’t join up with Wakanda, went to Atlantis, made their own kingdom and ended up on the Wakandans’ radar as a rogue faction; much like the Jabari were in the first movie. Exactly how Namor’s Atlantean heritage and connection will be paid off in the movie remains to be seen, but we can guarantee that Namor is going to wreck some stuff, stuff in all caps, bold AND italics.
Atlantis in the MCU is going to be different from what it is in the comics to say the very least. While it is still possible for the Atlanteans to worship Poseidon in some form- as they do in the comics- it looks highly unlikely. The MCU has clearly positioned the Atlanteans as a race inspired by Mayan culture, which begs the question; who is their patron god? Is it Chaac, the god of rain and thunder?
Because that’s practically the only god with dominion over some form of water in the Mayan pantheon; everyone else is focused on the sky and the woods and the dead. Whoever their patron god might be, it can’t be denied that the MCU’s Atlantis is definitely linked to Maya culture, because we see Nakia- who is one of Wakanda’s best spies- stand at the shoreline of a beach with a Mayan-style pyramid in the backdrop, suggesting she’s going to be spying on the Atlanteans in the movie.
We suspect that this change was made to keep Namor and his Atlanteans different from the ones Arthur Curry leads in DCEU’s Aquaman franchise, but that’s about it. What isn’t different about them is, well, everything else. The Atlanteans look and operate like their comic book counterparts; they have blue skin, they need special technology to operate on the surface, and they all share a spiritual connection to their residence. We see an Atlantean birthing ceremony and can observe that the birth takes place entirely under water.
We see a beautiful shot of Atlanteans riding whales to fight enemies at sea. We see Atlantean warriors take advantage of the tide and everything else the mighty ocean has to provide in their efforts to protect their home from the US government and the Wakandans.
It’s very likely that the MCU’s Atlanteans are like their Aztec’s; they might have been led here by someone like Druig led the Aztec survivors for literally millennia, and ended up assimilating the Maya culture into their own. It’s also possible that they were offshoots of the Eternals or the Deviants, because in the comics, the Atlanteans are actually aliens from the planet Vodan and no one knows how they got to Earth.
It is speculated that they might have been brought here thanks to the Eternal-Deviant War, and after the introduction of the Eternals to the MCU, that does seem like a plausible origin story. But all this speculation will get us nowhere close to cracking the code; we’re just going to have to wait and discover this ourselves. And finally, let’s get to the biggest question mark from the entire trailer…
The New Black Panther
It’s rare that a trailer about a superhero film only gets one shot of said hero, but given the circumstances surrounding Black Panther 2’s production, we’re surprised they even got one in there. After Chadwick Boseman’s passing, Marvel announced that they would not re-cast his character, which was the most-honorable thing they could’ve done for his legacy, but it also made us think; who is going to be the new Black Panther?
There are 2 prime candidates in the eyes of the audience, so let’s break down the least likely one. Fans believe that since the suit shown in the trailer had the golden claws of King Killmonger’s suit, Michael B. Jordan is retaining his role from the first film. Now to be fair, there is some merit to this claim. Killmonger literally refuses to stay dead in the comics. Using another ancient artefact called the Resurrection Altar, Killmonger manages to bring himself back to life over and over again as long as his minions don’t screw up the ritual.
And to be fair, we’ve already seen one godly avatar come back to life. Khonshu resurrected Marc Spector after he made it to the Field of Reeds, so it wouldn’t be entirely impossible to get Killmonger out of the ancestral plane. After all, he does share a link with Bast, being the last person to ingest the heart-shaped herb and all, but we think that that would ruin the impact he made in the first film.
Killmonger was the Devil’s Advocate that T’Challa needed to encounter to open his eyes to the truth; that Wakanda’s power was meant to be shared, not hoarded. By bringing him back, yes, you’ll guarantee an insane audience reaction, but that’s about it. The more logical choice would be T’Challa’s very own sister, Shuri.
Shuri is the heir-presumptive to the throne of Wakanda after T’Challa’s death, and she has already donned the mantle of Black Panther in the comics. In fact, as the Black Panther, she even went to war with Namor once, which is probably the storyline they drew inspiration from for Wakanda Forever. But there is an interesting thing about her transformation; Shuri didn’t get her powers immediately.
In the comics, after going through the trials to become the Black Panther, she ingests the heart-shaped herb and communes with Bast; but her goddess rejects her because she knows that Shuri truly wants to become the Black Panther out of jealousy for her brother and not her duty to Wakanda. Shuri uses her ingenuity and the Black Panther armour to carry on her brother’s legacy anyway, and eventually, is granted the mantle officially after Bast sees her warrior’s courage and decides that she is now worthy.
Though Killmonger burned every heart-shaped herb in the sacred garden, it is possible that Shuri ate one when she was young out of a similar desire, but ended up not gaining the powers her brother did. Now, after everything that has transpired, she will finally become worthy of the mantle and put on the armour that she preferred in the first movie in the first place. Either that, or she will use an artificial strain of the heart-shaped herb to augment herself, as she does for her soldiers in the comics. Regardless, we’re 98% sure that Shuri is going to be the New Black Panther; though it will be a long and painful journey for her to get there.
And that’s our list! We’ve covered every new major character that we managed to spot from the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever trailer, but we’re sure we must’ve missed something. Let us know what that was, in the comments below. Ryan Coogler and his team seem determined to honour Chadwick Boseman’s memory by putting out an artistic masterpiece staged in the MCU, and the trailer certainly gives off that vibe. Wakanda Forever has the potential to be the most heart-wrenching instalment of the entire Cinematic Universe, and we personally think that November is way too far; we can only be patient for so long, but we’ll try our best to hang in there.