Black Panther is many things to many people. It is without a doubt one of the best entries in the MCU, while it also serves as a revolutionary rebuttal to Hollywood’s stereotypical portrayals of African culture. Its female characters stand out as exceptional examples of intersectional feminism and the film’s aesthetic as a whole is fun, fresh, and action-packed. As a stand-alone film, Black Panther takes the superhero genre into new territory and touches on timely and nuanced themes. But as part of the MCU, it remains mostly off by itself. This is a good thing for the film’s individual story, as it allows its unique identity and setting to be well developed. But for future Black Panther films, there is much left to explore.
Black Panther has a rich comic book history with connections to the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, and many other Marvel heroes and villains. Director Ryan Coogler has plenty to draw from for Black Panther‘s inevitable sequel(s). I am going to run with the assumption that Black Panther, like other Marvel heroes, will ultimately get his own stand-alone trilogy. Sure, films like Avengers: Infinity War and the still untitled Avengers 4 will complicate what could happen in a Black Panther stand-alone sequel, but for the sake of speculation, we will ignore that for now. Here are six things I would like to see in a Black Panther trilogy:
6. More Street-level Wakanda
Much like Thor did for Asgard (though arguably not as thoroughly), Black Panther set up the nation of Wakanda in a way that best served its story. We learned plenty about its past, infrastructure, monarchy, and relationship to the world, but there is still plenty more to discover. While we spent a lot of time in T’Challa’s royal environment, we did not get to spend much time on the streets of Wakanda or with the common people. How do the Wakandan middle and lower classes incorporate vibranium into their everyday lives? Do they even have access to it? For a country untouched by colonialism and Western hierarchical influences, is their society better or more egalitarian than ours? Coogler and fellow writer Joe Robert Cole delivered a perfect balance of world-building and character-driven plot in the first film; I have no doubt they could do so again.
5. T’Challa as a Global Politician
At times, Black Panther felt like a James Bond gadget-espionage movie which was a great addition to the MCU. But for the sequel, after T’Challa has opened up Wakanda to the world, the plot should lean more heavily on him becoming a global politician. He can run his country well, for sure, but how will T’Challa act on the world stage? Plus, who says that the Wakandan people all agree with his decision to reveal their secrets to the world? It would be interesting to give T’Challa an antagonist who is the representative of another country (perhaps Latveria?) who is not downright evil but instead simply advocating for his or her own country’s interests. As a superhero, T’Challa can solve problems with his fists, but as a politician he will have to find a compromise. That’s arguably a harder task for our hero.
4. Shuri Suits Up
In the comics, Shuri, T’Challa’s younger sister, takes up her brother’s mantle when he is injured, but T’Challa should not need to die or retire for the MCU’s Shuri to suit up. He could take a more prominent role with the Avengers or spend more time as king, leaving Shuri to fill his superheroics void. The sibling banter between Shuri and T’Challa was a highlight of Black Panther and any opportunity to see more of them working together would be great. This might be controversial, but given her similarities to Tony Stark, she could instead deviate from expectations and become the next Iron Man. In the comics, Riri Williams is an African-American engineering student who builds her own suit and takes the name Ironheart. To have both characters in the MCU would be great too, but if Marvel wanted to consolidate, this could be a smart choice.
3. Black Panther vs. Namor the Sub-Mariner
This has been a fan favorite idea for a while now. The problem is that Namor’s rights are a bit complicated. Best I can understand is that he is co-owned by Marvel and Universal much like the Hulk is. So, like how the Hulk was featured in Thor: Ragnarok, it makes the most sense for Marvel to include Namor in someone else’s film, i.e. a Black Panther sequel. To avoid confusion with DC’s Aquaman (which comes out in December 2018), it is probably best to save Namor for Black Panther 3 so there is plenty of time between the two different characters’ appearances. This film should relish in the world-building of Namor’s underwater city, Lemuria (I know it’s Atlantis in the comics, but to have both would be needlessly confusing) just like Black Panther did for Wakanda. A conflict between Black Panther and Namor would be a war between kings and their armies, a battle on a scale we have yet to explore in the MCU. Plus, if the Fantastic Four have already been introduced into the MCU, the film could feature them in cameo roles. If not, Namor could always pop up in a future FF film. As soon as possible, Marvel should cast Hawaii Five-0‘s Daniel Dae Kim in the role.
2. A Villainous Nakia
In the comics, Nakia becomes one of Black Panther’s most threatening and intimate villains. Going by the name Malice, Nakia’s jealousy of another of T’Challa’s love interests drove her to supervillainy. In the MCU, basing Nakia’s turn to the dark side on a love triangle would be clichéd and disrespectful to Lupita Nyong’o‘s layered portrayal of the character. However, a better written and slower character evolution for Nakia would really let Nyong’o show her range as an actress. Her growing antagonism could be spurned by another comic book villain (how about Denzel Washington as Reverend Achebe?) or by a irreconcilable disagreement between her and T’Challa. And above all else, it would open up the possibility for T’Challa to have another iconic woman in his life…
1. A Stormy Romance
In fairness, this is the second time I’ve pitched this idea, but I really think it would be perfect for the MCU. Storm and Black Panther’s romance and eventual marriage in the comics are some of the best developments of their characters. Introducing Storm in a Black Panther sequel would serve as a soft introduction of the X-Men and mutantkind in the MCU. Storm is worthy enough of her own solo film and would complement T’Challa well as a romantic partner and fellow hero. For a casting choice, I pick Tika Sumpter from the biopic Get On Up (starring T’Challa himself, Chadwick Boseman)
What was your favorite part of Black Panther? What would you like to see in its sequels? And what other MCU movies should T’Challa appear in? Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter!