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Black Panther 2: release date, cast, plot and everything you need to know about Wakanda Forever

Black Panther
(Image credit: N/A)

The Black Panther 2 that’ll arrive in theaters is not the sequel anyone would have wanted to make – or see – this time last year. Even though the movie, now titled Wakanda Forever, is one of the most hotly anticipated on the Marvel Cinematic Universe slate, the tragic death of star Chadwick Boseman in August 2020 means that the follow-up will come tinged with sadness.

Even without its leading man, however, Black Panther 2 is certain to be a hit. Of the 23 MCU movie releases to date, only the four Avengers outings have performed better at the worldwide box office than the first Black Panther – in fact, the original movie is the fourth highest grossing movie of all time in the US (according to Box Office Mojo). It was also the first superhero movie nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars.

In other words, the world is eager for a return to the technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda, so it’s no surprise that Marvel has rehired the first film’s writer/director Ryan Coogler to marshal the action. 

But what will Black Panther 2 look like without its iconic King T’Challa? When will we see it in cinemas? Who will be in the cast? What can we expect from the story? And how will it fit into the wider MCU continuity? We’ve pulled together all the essential information on what’s sure to be one of 2022’s biggest movies. Wakanda Forever!

Black Panther 2 release date: July 2022

Black Panther

The Dora Milaje in the original Black Panther. (Image credit: Disney)

Within a month of the first Wakanda-set movie’s February 2018 release, Marvel’s chief creative officer and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige was confirming to Entertainment Weekly that “we absolutely will do [a sequel]”. But despite the colossal success of the original movie, Marvel and Disney never seemed in a rush to bring out the follow-up – even before the sad passing of their star, Chadwick Boseman, following a four-year battle with cancer.

For a long time, the Black Panther 2 release date was scheduled for May 2022. Then, following a major Covid-19 induced reshuffle that saw Black Widow and subsequent MCU movies pushed back, the big Marvel Studios Celebrates the Movies trailer – part of Hollywood’s drive to get people back to theaters – confirmed a new Black Panther 2 release date: July 8, 2022.

While Black Widow will be available on Disney Plus (as part of the premium Premier Access package) at the same time at it debuts in theaters this July 2020, it remains to be seen whether Disney will still be exploring this type of release strategy by the time the Black Panther 2 release date comes around in 2022 – that will be dependent on both the coronavirus situation and the box office performance of Black Widow. Disney has announced that the upcoming Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will remain exclusive to theaters until 45 days after its theatrical debut, so – if things stay as they are – expect Black Panther 2 to follow a similar schedule.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The follow-up to Marvel Studios’ smash hit 2018 movie Black Panther, which introduced the futuristic African kingdom of Wakanda and its eponymous protector, King T’Challa (aka Black Panther).
  • Where can I see it? Black Panther 2 – aka Wakanda Forever – will debut in cinemas. The movie will also be available on Disney Plus at some point – possibly 45 days after its theatrical release, depending on how Disney handles it.
  • When can I see it? The Black Panther 2 release date is confirmed for July 8, 2022. We would expect to see it on Disney Plus in late August 2022 at the earliest.

Black Panther 2 cast: who’s in the movie?

This is the Black Panther 2 cast list, based on the intel we have so far:

  • Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia
  • Letitia Wright as Shuri
  • Danai Gurira as Okoye
  • Winston Duke as M’Baku
  • Angela Bassett as Ramonda
  • Martin Freeman as Everett Ross
  • Tenoch Huerta as TBC

Chadwick Boseman’s death has left an unimaginably large hole in the Black Panther 2 cast. Wakanda Forever won’t be recreating the star digitally, however, as Rogue One did with Peter Cushing.

“There’s only one Chadwick, and he’s not with us,” Marvel Studios executive vice president Victoria Alonso told Argentinian website Clarin (via Digital Spy). “Our king, unfortunately, has died in real life, not just in fiction, and we are taking a little time to see how we return to history and what we do to honor this chapter of what has happened to us that was so unexpected, so painful, so terrible, really.”

Nor will Black Panther 2 cast a new actor to play King T’Challa (aka Black Panther). “I want to acknowledge the devastating loss of a dear friend and a member of our Marvel Studios family,” Feige told Disney’s Investor Day conference in December 2020. “Chadwick Boseman was an immensely talented actor and inspirational individual who affected all of our lives both personally and professionally. 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.”

Even without its hero, however, the Black Panther 2 cast will feature plenty of familiar MCU faces. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Lupita Nyong’o (spy Nakia), Letitia Wright (T’Challa’s sister, Shuri), Winston Duke (Jabari Tribe leader M’Baku) and Angela Bassett (T’Challa’s mother, Ramonda) will all reprise their roles in Wakanda Forever, while CinemaBlend reported that Danai Gurira will be back as Okoye, leader of the elite soldiers of the Dora Milaje.

Elsewhere, Martin Freeman confirmed on The Late Show with James Corden in May that the US operative he plays, Everett Ross, will be back: “I had a Zoom call with Ryan Coogler, the director and co-writer, about seven or eight weeks ago, I suppose, and he sort of meticulously took me through all of my character’s beats in the film.”

It’s yet to be confirmed, however, whether Daniel Kaluuya – who’s just won an Oscar for his performance in Judas and the Black Messiah – will return as W’Kabi, T’Challa’s best friend. Even Kaluuya himself says he has “no idea” if he’s heading back to Wakanda. “[It’s about] whatever the story needs,” he told Jemele Hill (via ScreenRant). “I’m a fan. I’m that kind of person, if the story and the piece is better without me, I’m like, ‘Yo, I’m gonna watch this because I really wanna watch this.’ And if I’m in it and I’m able to serve it, then I’m in it.”

One star of the first movie who probably won’t be back for Black Panther 2 is Michael B Jordan, who played antagonist Erik Killmonger. Aside from the fact that Killmonger died in the first movie – not that that’s ever been a barrier to a character’s return in the MCU – Feige has said (as reported by CinemaBlend) that any reports of Jordan’s return are “pure rumor and speculation”, and that “nothing is set yet in any way”.

When asked by Jess Cagle on Sirius XM about the likelihood of a Killmonger comeback on a scale of one (never) to 10 (definite), Jordan said: “I’m gonna have to go with a solid two. I didn’t want to go zero! Never say never – I can’t predict the future!”

There’s no official confirmation yet on Wakanda Forever’s villain, but a Hollywood Reporter story said in November 2020 that Narcos: Mexico star Tenoch Huerta was in talks to join the Black Panther 2 cast as an antagonist.

Killmonger and T'Challa

Michael B Jordan probably won't be back in Black Panther 2 – but "never say never".  (Image credit: Marvel)

Black Panther 2 plot: what do we know about the story?

When it comes to storylines, Marvel tends to operate on a strict need-to-know basis, so little is known for sure about the Black Panther 2 plot. Indeed, with Boseman having kept his cancer diagnosis secret, Coogler had originally worked on a script that would feature the star reprising his role as T’Challa. “I spent the last year preparing, imagining and writing words for him to say, that we weren’t destined to see,” Coogler said (via the Hollywood Reporter). “It leaves me broken knowing that I won’t be able to watch another close-up of him in the monitor again or walk up to him and ask for another take.”

What does all that mean for Wakanda Forever? Marvel’s December 2020 Disney Investor Day presentation said that the sequel “will continue to explore the incomparable world of Wakanda, and all of the rich and varied characters introduced in the first film” – a strategy reiterated by Feige in an interview with Deadline in January 2021.

“So much of the comics and that first movie is the world of Wakanda,” he said. “Wakanda is a place to further explore with characters and different subcultures. This was always and initially the primary focus of the next story. 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 learnings and teachings from Chad as well.”

As far back as March 2018, Feige was aware of the potential of Black Panther’s supporting cast. “It’s a balance between leaving people wanting more and then giving them too much,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “I think Shuri’s astounding, and you’ll see much more of her in our universe. Okoye, I think I’d watch three action films of just Okoye. I’m not saying we’re doing that, but I’m saying that we’re intrigued by them.”

Lupita Nyong’o simply said (in an interview with Good Morning America) that Black Panther 2 will be “different” and that “all of us are dedicated to reimagining or carrying on his legacy in this new Black Panther”. Martin Freeman, meanwhile, teased in his James Corden interview that, “Some of [the script is] very odd, and I think [Ryan Coogler] could see by the reaction on my face some of the things he was saying… He kept on saying, ‘Stay with me, but this is going to work.’”

And although Wakanda Forever won’t feature T’Challa – though it will presumably address the character’s absence in some way – there’s a strong possibility the Black Panther 2 plot will introduce his successor in that iconic vibranium cat suit. In fact, there have been numerous rumors that Shuri – Wakanda’s answer to James Bond’s Q and T’Challa’s sister – will inherit the Black Panther mantle. After all, it’s already happened in the comics...

King T'Challa returns to Wakanda in the original Black Panther.

(Image credit: Disney/Marvel)

Black Panther 2 trailer: when will we see it?

With the Hollywood Reporter reporting Black Panther 2’s six-month shoot will get under way in Atlanta, Georgia, in July 2021, it’s still too early to see a Black Panther 2 trailer. In the meantime, however, you can fill that hole with the Stan Lee-narrated Marvel Studios Celebrates the Movies trailer that revealed the Black Panther 2 title: Wakanda Forever.

How will Black Panther 2 fit into the MCU timeline?

This is based on a great big if, but assuming that the Marvel Cinematic Universe release schedule isn’t radically altered again by Covid-19, Black Panther 2 will be the 30th movie in the most successful cinematic franchise of all time. It’ll follow Black Widow (July 2021), Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (September 2021), Eternals (November 2021), Spider-Man: No Way Home (December 2021), Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (March 2022) and Thor: Love and Thunder (May 2021) into theaters.

As for where Black Panther 2 fits into the MCU timeline, that’s something of a mystery, though we’re guessing it’ll take place somewhere after The Falcon and the Winter Soldier finale. After all, there was a strong Wakandan presence in the Disney Plus TV show, while Sam Wilson’s new Captain America suit features the African nation’s sophisticated technology. There are even rumors that Anthony Mackie might turn up in Black Panther 2 as the new Cap.

Mackie hinted in an interview with The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah that he’s working out to play Wilson again – a training regime that usually takes four months – in April 2021, while the star told Entertainment Tonight that:  “I do have a Wakanda visa, so I can go to Wakanda as much as I want. I have a passport and a Wakanda visa and I'm vaccinated, so I can go to Wakanda.” The timelines check out with the Black Panther 2 production schedule, so don’t be surprised to see Mackie in Wakanda Forever.

While we don’t know exactly how Black Panther 2 will fit into the MCU timeline, it’s a good bet it’ll be setting up the new Wakanda TV spin-off Coogler is developing for Disney Plus.

And it’s important to note that we haven’t seen the last of Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther. Feige confirmed to Emmy magazine (via CBR) that Boseman “came in about four times and recorded numerous episodes” of Disney Plus’s animated alternate reality What If…?. That's expected to debut on the service in the next few months.