Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hits theaters on November 11th. The highly-anticipated sequel is the 30th entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the final entry in the MCU’s Phase Four.
Directed by Ryan Coogler with a story by Coogler and a script co-written by Joe Robert Cole, Black Panther 2 will draw on many of its predecessors for backstory. Here’s our guide to what to know before you watch the biggest superhero movie of 2022.
According to Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper), who made the star-spangled weapon during World War II, Vibranium is the rarest element on Earth. Vibranium was first introduced to the MCU in Phase One. In 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is given a shield made of the alloy. The shield used the entire supply.
In 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, the eponymous android (James Spader) acquires Vibranium being sold by Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis). Ultron uses this to construct a synthetic body for himself. However, the Avengers steal the body before it can be activated. Using the Mind Stone and J.A.R.V.I.S. (Paul Bettany), an A.I. created by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), the Avengers use the body to create Vision. Vision is subsequently “killed” when Thanos (Josh Brolin) pulls the Mind Stone from his head in 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War.
There is at least one other instance where Vibranium appears in the MCU so far: 2021’s WandaVision. This series features two Visions. One is made of Vision’s Vibranium remains, which are reactivated by S.W.O.R.D. This reactivated Vision demonstrates how dangerous the resource of Vibranium can be in the hands of an unwise government. However, there is also a second Vision, created by Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) from her memories using Chaos Magic. According to Doctor Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings), this Vision is comprised of Vibranium, too.
In 2018’s Black Panther, much more about Vibranium, including its origins and potential applications, was revealed. During the opening, T’Chaka (John Kani) explains that all Vibranium originates from a meteorite that fell on the site where Wakanda is now located. In addition to providing the raw material of Vibranium, this also leads to the growth of a unique heart-shaped herb. If ingested by a human, the heart-shaped herb imbues the individual with superhuman strength and abilities: the Black Panther.
When the meteorite landed on the site thousands of years ago, five local tribes began to battle over the territory. The first Black Panther united four of the five tribes to form Wakanda.
Wakanda has developed fantastically advanced technology thanks in part to Vibranium. They use this tech to conceal their advancements and pose as a Third World country. However, at the conclusion of Black Panther, King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) ends this deception. He reveals the nature of Wakanda’s advancements to the world.
T’Challa was first introduced in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. His father, T’Chaka, was killed in a bombing executed by a brainwashed Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan). T’Challa assumed the mantle of the Black Panther and sought revenge. Rogers is ultimately able to intervene. He prevents T’Challa from killing Bucky, in part by revealing Bucky was being controlled by Baron Zemo (Daniel Brühl). In a mid-credits scene, Bucky is put in cryostasis in a Wakandan laboratory.
In Black Panther, more of the Wakandan royal family was introduced. This included T’Challa’s mother, Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), his younger sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright), and his cousin, Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan). Killmonger assumed control of Wakanda for a brief period during Black Panther.
The movie also introduced T’Challa’s political adversary, M’Baku (Winston Duke), Lord of the Jabari Tribe. M’Baku ultimately became an ally to T’Challa. Another partner introduced was Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o). A member of the War Dogs (Wakanda’s central intelligence service), Nakia is also T’Challa’s lover.
In August 2020, Boseman died of cancer. The tragedy was unexpected. Boseman had publically and professionally concealed the diagnosis and treatment. Marvel Studios elected not to recast the role, and the death of T’Challa will be a significant concern of Black Panther 2.
Boseman’s final appearance in the role of T’Challa was as a variant of the character in 2021’s Marvel’s What If…? Season 1 Episode 2, “What If… T’Challa Became a Star-Lord?” Boseman was posthumously awarded a 2022 Emmy for Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance for the role.
Initially introduced in a supporting role in Black Panther, Shuri will play a significant role in Black Panther 2. Shuri is shown to be a technological genius, providing T’Challa with many of the weapons and abilities he utilizes as the Black Panther. In addition, she demonstrated her acumen as a warrior in the movie’s third act. A post-credits scene revealed she was instrumental in deprogramming the defrosted Bucky. Shuri subsequently provided Bucky with a Vibranium arm.
This technological aptitude was again on display in Infinity War she was recruited by the Avengers to help remove the Mind Stone from Vision’s head. Shuri and T’Challa were subsequently “blipped” by the snaps of Thanos and Hulk. However, Shuri and T’Challa returned in the third act of 2019’s Avengers: Endgame, and both participated in the Infinity Saga’s climactic battle.
The Dora Milaje made their onscreen debut in Civil War and full debut in Black Panther. The elite team of all-women guards serves as the personal protectors of the Wakandan royal family. Key members of their ranks include General Okoye (Danai Gurira) and second-in-command Ayo (Florence Kasumba). In the first Black Panther, their loyalties were tested, as they were forced to decide between fealty to Wakanda under Killmonger or allegiance to T’Challa. Soon, the issue was resolved when T’Challa again assumed the throne at the movie’s conclusion.
Later, Ayo appeared in several episodes of 2021’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. In that series, Ayo arrived to apprehend Zemo, who Bucky and Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) had freed from incarceration. After a series of altercations, Ayo ultimately took Zemo into custody. She warned Bucky to avoid Wakanda after his role in these events. However, she also fulfilled his request to provide a new Wakanda-designed suit for Wilson’s Captain America.
Very little is known of the MCU’s incarnation of Atlantis and King Namor (Tenoch Huerta) beyond what has been shown in the movie’s trailers. However, there is one semi-canonical appearance from way back in Phase Two, thanks to 2017’s “Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout” at Avengers Campus in Disney’s California Adventure (DCA) in Anaheim, California.
This attraction allows guests of DCA to visit a traveling collection curated by Taneleer Tivan, better known as the Collector (Benicio del Toro). In the queue for this line, visitors see several artifacts from the MCU, including a damaged Ultron Sentry and Cosmo the space-faring golden retriever. However, also included among the items in the lobby displays is an artifact recovered from Atlantis.
Black Panther 2 will also introduce a new superhero to the MCU: Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne), also known as Ironheart. While we haven’t seen this hero before, it’s clear that her origins will draw inspiration from the first MCU movie, 2008’s Iron Man. So far, our best glimpse of Riri and her Mark I armor has been through a Target advertisement.
This isn’t the last we’ll see of Ironheart, either. After her appearance in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the character will headline an eponymous Disney Plus series, set to launch in 2023.
Beginning November 4, 2022, three episodes of Marvel Legends will debut on Disney Plus to anticipate the movie’s release, featuring T’Challa, Shuri and the Dora Milaje, respectively. The short character summaries are comprised of footage from previous releases. These video recaps are a great way to refresh yourself on the most important characters’ arcs.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever arrives in theaters on November 11, 2022. Preorder your tickets now!
This article was originally published on 10/31/22.
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