WARNING: Contains major spoilers for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
“My name is Prince T’Challa, son of King T’Challa.”
Those words inspired gasps, applause and tears every time I saw them Black Panther: Wakanda Forever In theatres. This final revelation in the film’s end credits sequence, that the legendary and deceased Black Panther had secretly fathered a son with Nakia by Lupita Nyong’o and that the boy had inherited his father’s name, was the perfect conclusion to a film that repeatedly honored Chadwick Boseman, even as he struggled to move forward after his tragic and untimely death. The fact that Ryan Coogler and his collaborators have been able to construct a satisfying superhero blockbuster that acknowledges and incorporates this real pain into his narrative is remarkable. The fact that the film adheres perfectly to the landing makes it really special.
It was certainly a task made all the more difficult by the online chatter leading up to the film’s release. When Marvel made the decision to have T’Challa die in the MCU rather than change him, the reaction was mixed. On the one hand it was understandable: Boseman era T’Challa. The idea of faking it and having another actor try to play the King of Wakanda would be a tough mountain to climb for his co-stars, and those close to them, let alone the audience. On the other hand, denying Black children the hero’s future adventures the moment they finally caught him instead of recasting him, as Marvel has done with many other heroes in the past, albeit under very different circumstances, seemed unfair. For some, it just wasn’t the right time to pass the Black Panther mantle on to another.
It’s a sentiment experienced by Letitia Wright’s Shuri, who comes across as wakanda foreverprotagonist of . A year after her older brother’s death, she is still struggling to cope with her grief: she is not interested in finding a solution to the heart-shaped herb riddle and becoming the new protector of Wakanda. And she certainly isn’t ready to undergo the mourning ritual taught to her by her mother, Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), and begin healing for her. “What construction does your mind create when you think of your brother?” Ramonda asks her daughter about her. “Does this offer you comfort or torment?” Shuri initially tries to run away from her pain, which quickly turns into revenge when Ramonda is killed by Namor (Tenoch Huerta). Definitely, wakanda forever leads the princess to a crucial choice: she becomes the Black Panther herself and, in an act strongly reminiscent of her brother, spares Namor’s life out of mercy.
As much as Shuri’s journey to become Black Panther pays off wakanda foreverThe third act, his very moment of healing and the revelation of T’Challa’s true legacy, plays out for the film’s soulful closing scenes. Shuri travels to Haiti to visit Nakia and, reflecting on the earlier scene with her mother, returns to the ritual, burning the ceremonial clothing she wore to T’Challa’s funeral. This time, when she thinks of her brother, it’s not with tormented pain and anger, but with comfort and forgiveness. The silent sequence showing the connection between T’Challa and Shuri is all the more poignant because it’s the only instance where we engage with T’Challa in the film, both warming and heart breaking at the same time.
It is only when Shuri has worked through her grief that she can receive the gift of a nephew who shares her brother’s name.
That alone would have been a fitting ending to the film, but Coogler and co. keep one last card up your sleeve. Because it turns out the options for shaping Black Panther’s future weren’t limited to role switching or Shuri taking over. There was a third way: enter Toussaint, the son of T’Challa and Nakia. It is only when Shuri looks inside him and processes his pain that he can receive the gift of a nephew who shares his brother’s name. It is enough for him to show a rare winning smile.
The arrival of Toussaint, also known as T’Challa, his official Wakanda name, can’t help but bring to mind the dialogue of one of the best scenes in black Panther, when T’Challa conversed with his father about the Ancestral Plane. “A man who failed to prepare his children for his own death has failed as a father,” T’Chaka tells his son in the 2018 film. The world was shocked by Boseman’s death in August 2020, the star with which he chose to continue his private cancer battle, shared only with his loved ones. Asking T’Challa to make sure his son and his partner were prepared for his death is a doubly cathartic moment not only for Shuri, but for the audience as well. It’s a gift that only a film like this, so determined to deeply explore pain and legacy, could give us. One of the thematic concerns of Marvel’s Phase 4 was for heroes to pass their mantles on to the next generation. For him wakanda forever team, it was not a choice but something that was imposed on him. The fact that this ending is so perfect is almost miraculous.
I don’t expect Marvel to pull the trigger to introduce this new T’Challa, whether a teenager or an adult, into the larger MCU anytime soon. For one thing, despite the fact that Shuri seemingly gave up the throne at the end of wakanda forever, there’s still a lot of his story to tell, and Coogler probably wants to honor that. Then there are the various multiversal machinations currently at play, meaning that a number of storylines are on the table as Kang prepares to conquer in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantummania later this month when Phase 5 begins.
But when it comes time for young T’Challa to make his presence known to Wakanda and the world, he will have an emotional charge because we know where he’s coming from. We know his roots. T’Challa’s legacy doesn’t just continue with Shuri. Continue with your child as well. And Boseman’s legacy continues as Black Panther stories are told; A big reason Coogler decided to continue making the sequel after Boseman’s death is because he’s sure it’s what his friend would have wanted. He knew how important the Black Panther franchise was. Not just for black people, but for the world. Though he and his iconic version of T’Challa are long gone, the legacy of the on-screen character lives on: in Shuri, young T’Challa, and in all stories to come.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is now streaming on Disney+
Rose James is a Gossipify movie and series reviewer known for her in-depth analysis and unique perspective on the latest releases. With a background in film studies, she provides engaging and informative reviews, and keeps readers up to date with industry trends and emerging talents.