After Chadwick Boseman, who played Black Panther’s central character T’Challa, died from colon cancer in August 2020, the future of the franchise was left up in the air, with questions swirling about how the story would move on without its chief.
However, from the look of the latest footage from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, debuted as part of Disney’s presentation at CinemaCon 2022, it looks like Marvel Studios has found a solution.
The footage shows three of Wakanda’s most powerful women – T’Challa’s younger sister Shuri Letitia Wright (Avengers: Infinity War), Danai Gurira's Okoye and Lupita yong'o's Nakia – stepping up into leading roles, though the footage does not make clear which enemy Wakanda’s army is preparing to fight.
In December 2020 it was announced that the role of T’Challa would not be recast.
"So much of the comics and that first movie is the world of Wakanda," producer Kevin Feige told Deadline. "Wakanda is a place to further explore with characters and different subcultures. This was always and initially the primary focus of the next story.
"We’re not going to have a CG Chadwick and we’re not recasting T’Challa. Ryan Coogler is working very hard right now on the script with all the respect and love and genius that he has, which gives us great solace, so it was always about furthering the mythology and the inspiration of Wakanda."
Marvel has also confirmed the returns of Winston Duke as M'Baku and Angela Bassett as Ramonda, while Michaela Coel (I May Destroy You) joins as a new cast member.
Read on for everything you need to know about Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Black Panther Wakanda Forever release date
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is scheduled to be released in cinemas on November 11, 2022.
The film was previously scheduled for release in May 2022 before being pushed back to July 2022 until it was pushed back once again.
Filming on the sequel began on June 29, 2021, in Atlanta, Georgia and is expected to continue into next year.
Actress Letitia Wright was forced to pause her filming when she suffered an accident on-set and had to be hospitalized and is expected to resume filming in 2022.
A representative for Wright told The Hollywood Reporter in November: "Letitia has been recovering in London since September from injuries sustained on the set of Black Panther 2 and is looking forward to returning to work early 2022.
"Letitia kindly asks that you keep her in your prayers."
Black Panther Wakanda Forever cast
Boseman is obviously a huge loss from the cast of any sequel, and it's now been confirmed he will not be replaced nor will he be featured through use of archive footage or CGI (such as Carrie Fisher in The Rise of Skywalker).
Lupita Nyong'o will return as T'Challa's love interest and War Dog spy Nakia, while The Walking Dead legend Danai Guriria will return as the leader of the Dora Milaje, Okoye.
Elsewhere, Martin Freeman will also reprise his role from the first film as CIA operative Everett K. Ross, as Winston Duke returns as the strong Jabari tribe leader M'Baku.
Finally, T'Challa's family will also feature in the form of Angela Bassett as his mother Ramonda and Letitia Wright as his genius younger sister, Shuri.
Could Shuri take up the mantle of the Black Panther from T'Challa as she has done previously in Marvel Comics?
Elsewhere, I May Destroy You star-writer Michaela Coel has joined the cast in an undisclosed role.
Finally, Dominique Thorne is due to appear as the whip-smart Riri Williams aka Ironheart. The actress was previously confirmed to be taking on the role for her own Ironheart series on Disney Plus.
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In November 2020, it was claimed by the Hollywood Reporter that Narcos: Mexico star Tenoch Huerta was in talks to play one of the antagonists in the sequel, although the identity of the character has not been reported.
The Sun previously reported that music superstar Beyoncé is also set to be involved in the Black Panther sequel, with a deal worth £80 million between her and Disney said to be in the works.
At the moment, reports are saying that she will only work on the film's soundtrack, but it is possible she could take an on-screen role too, after her recent performance in Disney's remake of The Lion King.
Black Panther Wakanda Forever plot
It's standard practice for Marvel Studios to keep story details about their upcoming Marvel movies tightly under wraps, but that hasn't stopped rampant fan speculation about this much-anticipated blockbuster.
It's now been confirmed that T'Challa will not appear in the story after a decision was taken not to recast the role, with the plot instead focusing on some of the other characters.
This could mean that, as in the comics, Letitia Wright's Princess Shuri could take on her brother's royal mantle, or it could be another character that takes on the role of Wakanda's defender.
Wright recently told PORTER that she's currently taking time to come to terms with Boseman's death and that the idea of reprising her role is "strange".
She said: "We're just still mourning Chad, so it's not something I even want to think about. The thought of doing it [Black Panther] without him is kinda strange.
"We're just grieving at the moment, so it's trying to find the light in the midst of it."
In fact, this is something producers are grappling with too.
"I think we’re going to see the movie in two lenses, pure entertainment but also cathartic," producer Nate Moore told ComicBook's Phase Zero podcast.
He added: "I think this movie has different sort of pressure on it, obviously, with the loss of Chadwick, which was unexpected and unprecedented in a way narratively, to figure out how to deal with".
Previous rumours had suggested that Atlantean hero Namor could play a part in the sequel, though this plan may have been scrapped if it ever was an intended part of the story.