Chadwick Boseman’s Legacy & Predictions for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

January 29, 2023

A film that was initially announced back in May 2021, it is almost surreal that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is almost here. A lot has happened in that time, including the reveal of who the big bad will be. Let’s dig into the nitty-gritty of what’s current with this much-anticipated movie and how it will honor the late Chadwick Boseman’s legacy as T’Challa.

The Latest from The MCU

The final film of the MCU’s phase four just got a lot bigger. 

What antagonist does Marvel have Wakanda up to bat against? If you’ve been keeping up with the trailers, your eyes do not deceive you, that is indeed Namor the Sub-Mariner. Namor is an important entry into the MCU’s rogues gallery with good reason. Should they follow through with certain aspects of his origin, Namor will be the next confirmed Mutant in Marvel’s growing universe. Not to mention that the nation he rules (typically Atlantis) is one of few that could match Wakanda adversarially.

Namor and Black Panther, image via Looper

As a matter of fact, in the comics, Wakanda’s rivalry with Atlantis is pretty legendary. Both are isolated nations associated with superior militaristic and technological feats compared to the rest of the world. Historically, both countries also have valid fears regarding revealing themselves and/or interacting with the greater global community.   The film also marks Rihanna’s return to the music scene. In the biggest splash one could make, Rihanna not only came back with the single “Lift Me Up,” but said single is also part of Wakanda Forever’s soundtrack.

So what do Producer Kevin Feige and the Marvel Studios team have in store with Wakanda Forever?

Wakanda Forever: Predictions

What will make the clash between these national superpowers so intense is how similar yet strikingly different they are in comparison to one another. Where the MCU is concerned, in Black Panther (2018), Wakanda already took the first step in trying to move forwards instead of back. In lieu of continuing to hide from the world (and thereby its problems, too), the nation and its leadership decided to leave fear behind and make a proud, powerful entrance onto the world stage. That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if, creatively, they decided to use Talokan (the MCUs Atlantis, the nation’s new name and look inspired by Aztec culture) to show what Wakanda would have looked like had it decided to stay the course as an isolated nation. 

All in all, depending on how events play out and what kind of story the writers decide to tell, three things can occur. Wakanda prevailed over Talokan’s attempts to besiege them, establishing the latter as an actively threatening force. The second is where both nations are on such an equal footing that they’re ultimately left locked in an uneasy stalemate. Or the third, an outcome which is unlikely but still entirely possible, the Talokanil successfully defeat the Wakandans since their own technology is able to rival them.

The only difference, in that case, would be that the Talokanil would be more tenacious in their efforts to secure victory, possibly resorting to methods the Wakandans wouldn’t be eager to take up. In all possible scenarios, I imagine that whatever the outcome of the conflict might be, it will heavily center around both presenting a challenge while also honoring the legacy of Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther.

Honoring Chadwick Boseman’s Legacy

Speaking of which, we should discuss said legacy. One of the biggest reasons why we have Wakanda as we see it today is due greatly in part to the late Chadwick Boseman’s stellar performance as the Black Panther. In tandem with the character’s truly illuminative arc throughout the movies of Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and even Marvel’s What If? animated series, Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther became a movement of its own. 

In Civil War, we are introduced to T’Challa when he was a prince. In the wake of King T’Chaka’s violent death at the hands of Helmut Zemo, it was clear then how powerfully devoted the character was to seeking justice. But where did justice end and vengeance begin? Where this fine line rested was what the young prince began to explore, something people still to this day still struggle with to varying degrees and levels. Captain America: Civil War is arguably where people began to see themselves in T’Challa; it is where the movement begins.

Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa, image via Syfy

By the time we see the character again in Black Panther (2018), the groundwork we saw laid out in Civil War is fleshed out and expounded upon. T’Challa’s journey evolves in a way that transcends the silver screen, transcends even the MCU itself. The prince not only had to grapple with becoming the king of one of the most powerful countries in the world but also had to reconcile with the shortcomings of his own family, embodied in his father’s decision to do quite knowingly disservice and leave behind his nephew, T’Challa’s cousin Erik Stevens (alternatively known as N’Jadaka or Killmonger).

By the movie’s end, Black Panther comes to represent many things. While celebrating black excellence within the film and without, the Black Panther embodies leadership, honor, courage in the face of the unknown, and above all, an inspiring sense of humility. As the king of Wakanda, he didn’t use his power to throw his weight around or force the world to bend to his will. That wasn’t the kind of leader Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa was, although it was certainly within his power to have access to Wakanda’s indescribably vast resources. Instead, he chose to use his influence to better the world around him, opting to let the world in to promote growth on the global, communal, and interpersonal levels. 

Nakia and Shuri in Black Panther (2018)

These qualities T’Challa personified would likewise become synonymous with Wakanda ideologically and expressively. One of the best examples to date was T’Challa’s ability to work with and eventually become close allies with M’Baku. Even amongst Wakandans, the Jabari was regarded as a tribe that no one would ever be able to work with because of centuries of bad blood. But when you’re someone who treats other people with dignity and respect, regardless of class, prior history, or belief, those barriers become easily scaleable obstacles. T’Challa’s outlook and demeanor were a testament to the healing power of kindness and understanding, something all leaders around the world could take a page from. 

Wakanda would further express these qualities when they answered the call to rebuff Thanos and the seemingly endless legions of space-traveling warriors at his disposal. While the Wakandans considered their own safety, they also did well to consider the safety of the greater world at large. Although the following onslaught could well have meant the end of the great nation, they courageously faced their foe head-on. I’ll even do you one better than that. Imagine having experienced firsthand the Mad Titan’s ferocity, soaking in that defeat for five long years, only to face that very same threat with the same vigor and strength of will in Avengers: Endgame? Yet again, Wakanda endeavors to serve as a beacon of the very best that we can be as human beings. 

Takeaways from the Black Panther Films

Although briefly, Marvel’s What If? also lends towards the brilliance of T’Challa’s legacy. In a universe parallel to the MCU we know, he was the only one who could convince Thanos not to wipe out half the universe in order to better it. Not by force and not by any means necessary either, but simply through the exchange of thoughts and ideas. Mere words. That right there is Chadwick Boseman’s legacy.

It isn’t just bringing a fictional character to life or being relatable enough to vibe with. Chadwick Boseman’s influence goes above and beyond performance. His work opened the door to one of the most thoughtful and inclusive films in cinema.

The character of T’Challa, voiced by Chadwick Boseman, in “What If” (2021)

The message his character and the characters around him share is one that impresses upon us a sense of active purpose. A calling that seeks to embolden us as individuals to challenge the divisions that threaten to fracture society at large. His legacy is for us to persevere. To lead with compassion, even though it might be hard or even if it isn’t what everyone else is doing.

To make it short and sweet, he’d want us to be good to each other. Not just for our own sake but for our neighbor’s sake too. That being said, I have faith that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will do more than live up to Chadwick Boseman’s legacy, one need only reference the record as we have it.