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Among the wealth of Marvel-related content to come out of San Diego Comic-Con over the weekend was the highly anticipated first look at Wakanda Forever, the sequel to Ryan Coogler's critically acclaimed 2018 Afrofuturist superhero movie Black Panther. Much of the trailer seems to focus on Queen Ramonda and Princess Shuri in mourning—a sad case of art imitating life following the death of Chadwick Boseman in 2020—but fan and creator Erik Voss believes it might also hint at who will be the next character to take on the Black Panther mantle.
Within the mythology of the MCU, Black Panther is a title assumed by Wakandan rulers, and so it is possible that Shuri (Letitia Wright) could be next in line, echoing her storyline in the comics. However, in a recent video on the New Rockstars channel, Voss outlines his belief that the next Black Panther will actually be another member of the Wakandan royal family: Erik Killmonger.
Portrayed by Michael B. Jordan in the first movie, Killmonger was King T'Challa's long lost cousin and nemesis who dethroned him and took the title of Black Panther for himself. That film ended with Killmonger's death, however Voss points out that the afterlife has become a recurring motif in the MCU, including T'Challa's visit to the ancestral plane in the first Black Panther movie, Marc and Steven's journey into the Egyptian underworld in Moon Knight, and most recently, Jane Foster's arrival in Valhalla in a post-credit scene in Thor: Love and Thunder.
"The reason we saw Jane and Heimdall again, I think, was to indicate the possibility of reincarnation or resurrection in this universe," says Voss. He also speculates that the introduction of Namor and Atlantis in Wakanda Forever could tie into Killmonger's return."Remember, Killmonger was buried at sea... The Atlanteans could have recovered his body."
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