“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” juggles a lot of balls for a single film — it serves as a tribute and goodbye to “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman who died in 2020, chronicles the journey of a new Black Panther, introduces several important new characters to the MCU and features a surprising family reunion.
Read on below for major spoilers for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”.
After a whirlwind of events that result in Wakanda being attacked by Namor (Tenoch Huerta), leader of a fantastical underwater world, Tālokān, which, like Wakanda, is rich with vibranium. He initially offers an allyship with Wakanda, but turns on the nation when his initial efforts are rejected, leading to a violent confrontation that will shape the future of both worlds. The attack ends with the death of Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), which spurs Princess Shuri (Letitia Wright) to finally embrace tradition and take on the Black Panther mantle to protect her home.
But Shuri’s decision isn’t solely altruistic — she desires vengeance from Namor and is consumed by guilt and anger over her brother’s death. She crafts a synthetic Heart-Shaped Herb using elements within a bracelet gifted to her by Namor and takes it, hoping to see her mother or brother in the ancestral plane.
But when she arrives, she’s confronted by none other than her late cousin, Erik “Killmonger” Stevens (Michael B. Jordan).
Killmonger — born N’Jadaka and the son of N’Jobu (Sterling K. Brown), the brother of T’Challa’s father T’Chaka (John Kani/Atandwa Kani) — died in Black Panther after his plans to claim the Wakandan throne in revenge for his father’s death, as well as a global revolution, were thwarted by T’Challa.
Shuri is understandably surprised by the “Hey lil cousin,” Killmonger directs her way, and furthermore by his assertion that they share more in common than she’d like to admit. Feeding off the anger, guilt and uncertainty in Shuri’s heart, Killmonger taunts her, suggesting that she “chose” to see him because she wants to avenge her loved ones, much like he did.
Since visits to the ancestral plane are seemingly manifestations created by the person who takes the heart-shaped herb, it suggests that Shuri’s anger after the deaths of her brother and her mother caused her to call upon the only other ruler she knew driven by vengeance. Shuri wasn’t seeking guidance, she was seeking approval for what she really wanted to do: kill Namor.
Shuri calls Killmonger an “unworthy king,” pointing out how he is the reason Wakanda no longer has heart-shaped herbs. But Killmonger mocks her idea of worthiness, pointing out that her father was a hypocrite and how T’Challa’s nobleness led to him granting mercy to Helmut Zemo, who killed T’Chaka in “Captain America: Civil War”.
Killmonger challenges Shuri as to whether she will be weak like her brother or whether she’ll “take care of business” like him and handle Namor permanently.
Killmonger’s words bolster the rage burning within Shuri and she leaves the ancestral plane determined to kill Namor. Even her appearance becomes similar to Killmongers — from her braids to her sleek suit.
In the end, Shuri is her mother’s daughter and Ramonda reaches her from the ancestral plane with advice echoing her words to T’Challa in “Black Panther”: “Show them who you are.” Shuri spares Namor’s life and strikes a truce with the kingdom of Tālokān, promising that Wakanda will protect Tālokān from invasion.
Back in May of last year, ET caught up with Jordan, who seemingly predicated his return to the franchise even after his character’s death.
“There’s always a love I have for those characters and Erik is definitely one of those that means a lot to me,” he told ET’s Nischelle Turner when she asked whether Jordan would be interested in working with director Ryan Coogler again on the sequel. “So only if it’s the right thing and it’s impactful and if I could add something to it. If it means something then, yeah, I wanna be a part of that journey, you know?”
Although Jordan stated that he wasn’t sure what Coogler was doing with the film, he had no doubts that he’ll work with the director again soon. He said that even if he doesn’t return as Killmonger in the sequel, he and Coogler are “definitely gonna do projects together in the future.”
And he was right! Killmonger’s appearance seems like a one-and-done return, but you never know what Coogler and Jodran could cook up for the possible threequel.
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is in theaters now.