BY DAVID OPIE, Digital Spy
The phrase “Wakanda Forever” might be a tad ambitious, but we’re guaranteed at least one more sequel to Black Panther in the coming years and there’s a lot of pressure to deliver.
Not only was T’Challa’s first solo venture one of Marvel’s most successful movies at the box office, but it also won over critics and award bodies alike while fixing the studio’s ‘villain problem’ in the process.
Thanks to impressive scripting and a nuanced performance from Michael B Jordan, Killmonger instantly cemented himself as one of the most complex antagonists seen yet in a superhero movie.
It’s clear then that whoever takes his place in Black Panther 2 will have their work cut out for them, especially as a number of T’Challa’s most popular enemies from the comics have already made their cinematic debut.
Still, with over 50 years of comic book history to draw upon, there are still plenty of adversaries who could potentially give the wealthy king a run for his money in future Black Panther movies.
With that in mind, suit up in your finest vibranium and join us as we search for a foe worthy of T’Challa’s might.
Like Black Panther, Namor also rules over a mighty kingdom, but this one is hidden away on the ocean floor. Predating Aquaman by over two years, Marvel’s King of Atlantis is widely regarded as ‘Marvel’s first mutant’, but he’s yet to appear in a movie due to ownership issues.
However, now that the rights for the X-Men and Fantastic Four have finally been acquired by Marvel Studios, it looks like Namor won’t be far behind, and there’s even a chance that Avengers: Endgame might have hinted at this already.
During a debriefing between Black Widow and Okoye, mention is made of an underwater earthquake that’s taking place off the coast of Africa and soon after, we also discover that whales are swimming in the Hudson River.
Marvel rarely leaves anything to chance, so it’s entirely possible that these two nautical references could have been thrown in to set up a future conflict between Atlantis and Wakanda. In the comics, Namor has often fought as a villain and regular conflicts between these two nations could easily spill over into the movies too.
However, Avengers: Endgame co-writer Christopher Markus told The Hollywood Reporter that he wishes “we were that smart” when asked about the Namor theory. That doesn’t entirely rule out it being retrofitted, though.
Killmonger shuffled off this mortal coil at the end of Black Panther, but unlike Wakanda, death doesn’t have to be forever in the MCU.
Michael B Jordan has already expressed interest in returning to the franchise and as Endgame recently proved, there are any number of ways to bring Killmonger back, including flashbacks or time travel. It’s also possible that he could return in a vision of some kind if T’Challa visits his ancestors in the realm of Bast again.
However, as much as we’d like to see Jordan reprise this role, it would be difficult to position him as a central antagonist in Black Panther 2 without recycling old ideas. At best, Killmonger should return in some kind of cameo part to link back with the first film and explore the impact their fight left on T’Challa.
What sets T’Challa apart from the other Avengers is his regal heritage. The first Black Panther movie explored this unique power in considerable depth. For the sequel, it would be fascinating to see the King of Wakanda meet his match against someone like Princess Zanda, who rules over the fictional nation of Narobia.
Wielding the kind of technological power that could rival even Wakanda, Zanda and her followers would pose a formidable threat to T’Challa while also setting the Black Panther films even further apart from other Marvel movies with some political intrigue. Think Game of Thrones but with way less incest.
The last time we saw Zemo was at the end of Captain America: Civil War when T’Challa spared his life, even though he had just murdered his father. Legacy plays a vital role in the Black Panther story, so it would be fitting to see the man who killed Wakanda’s former King return in some capacity.
Even though he doesn’t have any powers of his own, Zemo’s already proven himself to be a match for the Avengers and with an upcoming role in the Falcon/Winter Soldier show, it’s clear that he’s not down for the count just yet either.
By including Zemo in Black Panther 2, this would also provide his character with the chance to unlock his full potential and don that infamous hood from the comics (where he’s the son of Nazi scientist Baron Zemo).
Sons of the Serpent
Given that prejudice continues to dominate the news day in and day out, it would be inspiring to see T’Challa and his allies take on racist villains like The Sons of the Serpent in Black Panther 2.
Although their set-up is somewhat similar to Hydra, Marvel could circumvent this by introducing them as a radicalised splinter group whose sole aim is to eradicate anyone who’s different from them.
Although it’s going to take a while for characters like the Fantastic Four to appear on screen again following Marvel’s deal with Fox, it would be worth the wait if Doctor Doom faced off against T’Challa in Black Panther 2.
Although he’s traditionally associated with Marvel’s First Family, the Fantastic Four’s arch-nemesis has often fought against the power of Wakanda before in the comics too.
In many ways, Doctor Doom acts like a mirror image to T’Challa, ruling over his own technologically-advanced nation with great cruelty. A cinematic war between the two regal figures would be undeniably epic and could leave a lasting impact on the MCU that might even foreshadow the Fantastic Four’s arrival too.