Black Panther: Wakanda Forever now streaming on Disney+: All the spoilers, Easter eggs, and more
Disney+ is ready to bring Wakanda to your living room.
After hitting theaters in November 2022, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is finally making its streaming debut, arriving on Disney+ today. Ryan Coogler's superhero sequel marks the official end of Marvel's Phase 4 — as well as being a bittersweet tribute to original Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman, who died in 2020.
The first Black Panther was a culture-changing hit, the rare superhero flick that both shattered box office records and scored multiple Academy Award nominations. (It became the first Marvel Studios film in history to earn an Oscar nod for Best Picture.) Like its 2018 predecessor, Wakanda Forever also won over audiences and critics alike, raking in more than $842 million at the global box office and becoming one of 2022's highest-grossing films. Star Angela Bassett also made history with Marvel's first acting Oscar nomination, garnering a nod for Best Supporting Actress. (A Bassett win may be imminent as well.)
In addition to streaming on Disney+, Wakanda Forever is also available on digital and will be available in 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD on Feb. 7. Whether you'll be watching for the first time or revisiting it after seeing it in theaters, EW has your full breakdown on all things Wakanda Forever — including all the spoilers, Easter eggs, and more.
Eli Adé/Marvel Studios Danai Gurira and Angela Bassett in 'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever'
Legacy for a king
After the first Black Panther debuted to massive success in 2018, Marvel almost immediately greenlit plans for a sequel. Returning director Ryan Coogler and co-writer Joe Robert Cole soon began outlining plans for the film that would become Wakanda Forever, once again centering their story on Boseman's charismatic leader T'Challa. Per Coogler, their initial first draft was written as a "father-son story," focusing on T'Challa and his young son Toussaint as they embarked on a new adventure together. (More on T'Challa's son in a minute.)
Those original plans were derailed, however, after Boseman's unexpected death in August 2020: The actor died at the age of 43, passing after a private battle with colon cancer. Coogler suddenly found himself grieving not only his star but a close friend, and the director previously told EW he was unsure whether he even wanted to return to Wakanda.
"I was at a point when I was like, 'I'm walking away from this business,'" Coogler said. "I didn't know if I could make another movie period, [let alone] another Black Panther movie, because it hurt a lot. I was like, 'Man, how could I open myself up to feeling like this again?'"
Ultimately, Coogler and his cast decided to move forward — as a way to both honor their late star and expand the world he loved so much. The returning cast includes Bassett as Queen Ramonda, Letitia Wright as Shuri, Danai Gurira as Okoye, and Winston Duke as M'Baku, and the film picks up after the events of 2018's Black Panther, as the nation of Wakanda mourns their late king T'Challa.
Wakanda Forever pays tribute to Boseman in several ways: The film itself is a love letter to both the actor and the character, and when the film starts, Ramonda, Shuri, and the entire nation of Wakanda are mourning the death of T'Challa, who has died off-screen from an unspecified illness. Even the familiar Marvel Studios opening is reworked to honor Boseman, and the usual montage of Marvel superheroes is replaced with a new version, one comprised entirely of footage of Boseman.
Boseman also appears later in the film via flashback, as Shuri reflects on her time with her big brother. "I always carried him in every scene," Wright previously told EW. "I always would ask, 'Bro, what do you think?' and just try to keep a spiritual connection. He meant everything to me, and he's the reason why I'm here. He picked me to be his sister, so I couldn't have done this journey without him."
New heroes rise
Annette Brown/Marvel Studios Letitia Wright as Shuri in 'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.'
Even as Wakanda Forever pays tribute to T'Challa, it also introduces several new heroes. Much of the film centers on Shuri, T'Challa's brilliant little sister who's grappling with the loss of her brother. Ultimately, Shuri winds up taking on the Black Panther mantle herself, following in her brother's footsteps as the protector of Wakanda.
Fortunately for Shuri, she's not standing alone. She finds a new ally in Riri Williams, a brilliant American student who follows in the footsteps of Tony Stark and builds her own armored suit. Riri's inventing genius attracts unwanted international attention, and before long, Shuri and Riri have to team up to defend themselves against foes. "I love the fact that she is just fully herself," Thorne said. "She's definitely not the typical or traditional superhero. She's very much Riri Williams, the 19-year-old student first, and then there's this whole Ironheart business that she has to figure out." (For more on Riri Williams, read EW's interview with Thorne here.)
Deep dive into Talokan
Eli Adé/Marvel Studios Tenoch Huerta
You can't have a superhero movie without a villain — and Wakanda Forever introduces a particularly powerful one from the comics. Mexican actor Tenoch Huerta stars as Namor, the mercurial mutant leader of the underwater kingdom of Talokan. (You can read a full breakdown of his complicated comics history — including that "Imperius Rex" catchphrase — here.)
Still, Huerta had to do some major training before suiting up (or stripping down?) to play Namor. In an interview with EW, the actor revealed that despite being cast as the leader of an underwater paradise, he himself didn't know how to swim. When Coogler called to offer him the role and asked about his swimming skills, Huerta simply replied: "I've never drowned before."
Although Wakanda Forever underwent major changes after Boseman's death, Coogler says that Namor and the nation of Talokan were always part of his earliest drafts. "I had spoken with Chad [Boseman] about that aspect of the script, and he was really excited," Coogler said. "That was something he was fired up about. I remember we were at a restaurant in Los Feliz the first time we talked about possibly having indigenous American representation in the film. He got the biggest smile, like, 'They're never going to see this coming. It's awesome.'"
A powerful end-credits scene
Wakanda Forever saves one of its most moving moments for the very end, with an emotional end-credits scene that teases the future of Wakanda. Midway through the credits, Shuri travels to Haiti to visit Nakia, who reveals that she secretly gave birth to T'Challa's son. Shuri meets her young nephew (played by Divine Love Konadu-Sun), who reveals that his Haitian name is Toussaint — a nod to legendary Haitian leader Toussaint Louverture. His Wakandan name, however, is T'Challa — a tribute to his late father and a name that suggests the young Toussaint may some day follow in his family's footsteps. (Read a full breakdown of the end-credits scene here.)
For more on Wakanda Forever, read all of EW's coverage below — from exclusive interviews with the cast and filmmakers to behind-the-scenes breakdowns and Easter eggs.
Forever changed: The grief and joy of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
The Black Panther: Wakanda Forever cast on diving deep into the challenges of a new chapter
How Black Panther: Wakanda Forever pays tribute to Chadwick Boseman
Costume designer Ruth E. Carter breaks down the looks in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Angela Bassett earns Marvel's first acting Oscar nomination for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever review: A sumptuous elegy for a king
EW answers your burning questions about Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
How the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever end-credits scene teases the future of Wakanda
Tenoch Huerta had to learn to swim to play Namor in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
How Black Panther: Wakanda Forever introduces Dominique Thorne as Ironheart
How Namor's MCU debut in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever compares to the comics