Who could be the next Black Panther in Wakanda Forever? Likely candidates and confirmed release date

We've narrowed it down to these three key characters

a medium shot of Chadwick Boseman as the Black Panther in the Marvel film
(Image credit: Marvel/Pictorial Press/Alamy)

With the tragic death of T’Challa actor Chadwick Boseman, here are possible Black Panther candidates for upcoming Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

When Black Panther was released in 2018, it broke boundaries by presenting African-American centric narratives that challenged institutional bias within Hollywood film-making. Exploding onto screens to both critical and audience acclaim, the 18th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) received 7 nominations at the 91st Academy Awards. Becoming the first superhero film to be nominated for the coveted Best Picture category. With the first screening of the trailer of follow up film Black Panther: Wakanda Forever at the 2022 Comic-Con International, word is a buzz with who could play Black Panther in the upcoming film, plus the film's release date.

Not the only characters from the MCU making waves this year, fans of the Thor franchise have been questioning when is Thor: Love and Thunder's Disney Plus release date (opens in new tab). Those who saw the film during its cinematic release and stayed to the end, noticed some fascinating Thor end credit scenes (opens in new tab) giving us hints to new Marvel characters to come. Dr Strange has also enjoyed an outing this year, in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (opens in new tab) also on Disney+.

Who could be the next Black Panther in Wakanda Forever? 

Marvel Studios confirmed that the character of T'Challa will never be recast. Instead, the Black Panther title can be passed down and taken on by a new character

In the original film, Black Panther was played by Chadwick Boseman. However, Boseman sadly lost his life to colon cancer in 2020, at the age of 43. Vanity Fair (opens in new tab)reported that Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has confirmed T'Challa's story is over, and the Black Panther title will be passed on. 

Chadwick Boseman attends the European Premiere of Marvel Studios' "Black Panther" at the Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith on February 8, 2018 in London, England

(Image credit: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for Disney))

Speaking about Boseman’s performance in the 2018 film, Feige said “His portrayal of T'Challa, the Black Panther, is iconic, and transcends any iteration of the character from any other medium in Marvel's past. It is for that reason that we will not recast the character.” 

On continuing the franchise despite Boseman’s death, he continued to add “To honor the legacy that Chad helped us build with his portrayal of the King of Wakanda, we wanted to continue exploring that world and all the rich and varied characters introduced in the first film”.

According to The Direct, (opens in new tab) the official Disney press release states that in the sequel, T’Challa is dead. The film’s synopsis also reads “In Marvel Studios’ ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,’ Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), Shuri (Letitia Wright), M’Baku (Winston Duke), Okoye (Danai Gurira) and the Dora Milaje (including Florence Kasumba), fight to protect their nation from intervening world powers in the wake of King T’Challa’s death”.

Could Shuri be the next Black Panther in Wakanda Forever? 

There are rumours Shuri, played by Letitia Wright, could be the new Black Panther. Shuri is the princess of Wakanda, and T’Challa’s younger sister. 

The newly unveiled Black Panther: Wakanda Forever trailer depicts Shuri and Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) mourning T’Challa to a backdrop of ‘No Woman No Cry’. As the music changes to ‘Alright’ by Kendrick Lamar, the New Black Panther is shown, releasing their claws. Although their face remains hidden, fans are convinced it’s Shuri, as she becomes Black Panther in the comics when T’Challa is injured. 

One Twitter user shared stills from the trailer depicting the new Black Panther, against pictures of Shuri. They captioned the tweet “Shuri is definitely taking the mantle of the Black Panther”. Many agreed with the poster, suggesting this was “definitely” going to happen.

Letitia Wright as Shuri in Black Panther

(Image credit: PictureLux/Alamy)

Another fan (opens in new tab) also shared a picture of the faceless new Black Panther. Their take on the subject was that a multiversal Black Panther could be on the cards, suggesting their identity is not Shuri, but could be Mbaku, Killmonger, or simply a T’Challa “from another universe”.

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Could Nakia be the next Black Panther in Wakanda Forever? 

Played by Lupita Nyong'o, speculation exists placing Nakia as the next Black Panther. In the comics, Nakia is also known as Malice, and is one of Black Panther’s enemies.

Formerly one of his greatest allies, and one of Wakanda’s ‘Dora Milaje’ (which translates to ‘Adored Ones’), Nakia was trusted within T’Challa’s close circle. However, her increasing fatuation with him turned her into a dangerous enemy, and one who knows all his secrets. In the film, Nakia is T'Challa's former lover and undercover spy for Wakanda. In a departure from the comics, Nakia is fighting for enslaved Nigerian women at the start of the first film.

Lupita Nyong'o as Nakia in Black Panther

(Image credit: Alamy)

Although less assurance exists around Nakia becoming the next Black Panther, there are certainly fans who would be excited for this transition. One Twitter user wrote “if Nakia picks up the Black Panther mantle I *will* start hyperventilating in the theatre from pure excitement”. 

Another fan (opens in new tab), alluding to the fact there are stronger front runners for the title, added they just wanted to “live in denial” and continue believing Nakia would be the next Black Panther 

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Could Okoye be the next Black Panther in Wakanda Forever? 

Also included in the race, Okoye played by Danai Gurira, could be the next Black Panther. As leader of the Dora Milaje, fans feel Okoye is best placed to become Black Panther, rather than T’Challa’s sister Shuri.  

As one of the king’s guard’s greatest warriors, and one of the best Wakanda has ever seen, Okoye has the natural skill required for the title. However, as the role is historically passed down to a blood relative, some have suggested Okoye as neither a relation or former lover, stands the smallest chance of gaining the crown.

Danai Gurira as Okoye in Black Panther

(Image credit: Alamy)

When IGN posted to Twitter (opens in new tab)asking readers who they thought should become the next Black Panther, the response was overwhelmingly in favour of Shuri. Of over 1200 responses, Shuri followed by Nakia were popular. Okoye did not receive many votes, placing her as the biggest wild card. 

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever trailer 

Wakanda Forever: Release date 

The Black Panther: Wakanda Forever release date is confirmed as November 11, 2022. According to the BBC (opens in new tab), production on the film was delayed when British actress Letitia Wright (Shuri) was injured on set.

Filming paused in November when the actress suffered a shoulder fracture and concussion when a stunt went wrong. She was unable to resume filming for 5 months following the incident. The film was initially scheduled for release this summer, but the delays caused by the accident pushed the release to November of this year.   

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Lucy Wigley
Lucy Wigley

Lucy is a multi-award nominated writer and blogger with six years’ experience writing about entertainment, parenting and family life. Lucy has contributed content to PopSugar and moms.com. In the last three years, she has transformed her passion for streaming countless hours of television into specialising in entertainment writing. There is now nothing she loves more than watching the best shows on television and telling you why you should watch them.