Saturday, November 26, 2022

Wakanda Forever: All the Top Questions to Understand Wakanda’s Sequel

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Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is Marvel’s most important Phase 4 show. Wakanda Forever clearly holds plenty of things in motion for Phase 5, which means we have a lot of questions about what’s next for Shuri, Namor, and the gang. Here are the biggest mysteries from Wakanda Forever we want to see addressed. 

T’Challa Disease 

MCU can follow many ways to handle the death of actor Chadwick Boseman and change the fate of T’Challa. Wakanda Forever opts to stick as close to reality as possible. Last time we all come to know about the terminal illness of T’Challa. On succumbing to his disease before Shuri and her team could synthesize a new version of the Heart-Shaped Herb to help save him. 


The film never actually exposes what disease T’Challa suffered from, however. The newscast segment simply indicates it as an undisclosed illness. Is cancer something even Wakanda’s science has yet to conquer? Or was this the MCU’s version of vibranium sickness from the comics? 

The strange fact is that the events of the previous MCU film might play into T’Challa’s mysterious illness which was his body dealing with the side effects of ingesting. On expelling the Heart-Shaped Herb multiple times within the span of a few days? Did being Snapped by Thanos somehow cause lingering damage to T’Challa’s body? 

We’ll probably never get answered to those questions, as Wakanda Forever is much more about grieving for Boseman and T’Challa than exploring the actual circumstances behind the character’s death. Still, the film leaves plenty of room for speculation. 


Riri’s Vibranium Detector deals 

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Riri Williams and her homemade vibranium detector are definitely the twin MacGuffins of Wakanda Forever. Riri herself is the film’s answer to America Chavez, as our heroes are forced to protect her from an all-powerful force bent on killing her. But the sequel leaves some major, unanswered questions regarding the origins of her invention. 

For one thing, how the heck did Riri even manage to build a machine that detects a metal found almost nowhere on Earth outside of Wakanda and Talokan? Where did she acquire a sample to calibrate her device in the first place? 

Most importantly, who was this mystery professor who sold the machine to the government? This could be the work of Tim Blake Nelson’s The Leader, setting the stage for Captain America: New World Order. On the other hand, we’ve been wrong about him before. 

There seems to be some important back-story to Riri’s machine and Lake Bell’s character, Dr. Graham, that the film never gets around to exploring.  


Ocean Fight  with Talokan  

Wakanda Forever’s climax unveils an epic sea battle between the armies of Wakanda and Talokan that naturally raises an important question as to why would Wakanda make the strategic blunder of fighting with Namor’s people in their home environment. Why fight the aquatic super-people in the ocean, when it’s clear they rely heavily on whales and the cover of water to overwhelm their opponents? 

It’s not exactly the smartest play Wakanda’s elite military has ever made. One could argue that the goal was to lure Talokan into a false sense of security by using Riri’s machine as a trap. But it’s still a decision that resulted in a lot of Wakandan casualties and hinged way too much on the premise that Shuri’s Namor trap would work.  


M’Baku Will be the New King? 

Wakanda Forever ends with a surprise shake-up to the kingdom’s political structure. While Shuri may have claimed the mantle of Black Panther, she seems to have no interest in ruling Wakanda as its queen. Instead, M’Baku shows up to participate in the ceremonial challenge, suggesting the throne is about to pass to the leader of the Jabari Tribe. 

What exactly does this mean for Wakanda going forward? Traditionally, the King of Wakanda and the Black Panther are one and the same, but it appears that’s no longer the case. 

It is worth remembering that T’Challa became Black Panther while his father still ruled, so there’s some precedent for the roles being split. Not to mention the time Ramonda spent as Queen. And the film does make a strong case for M’Baku as king, given that he was the only person urging a peaceful, level-headed response to the Talokanil threat. 

The film does make a strong case for M’Baku as king, given that he was the only person urging a peaceful, level-headed response to the Talokanil threat. 


Why Does Vibranium Affect Talokanil and Wakandans Differently? 

The MCU’s Talokan is far different from the Atlantis of the Marvel Comics universe. This underwater kingdom is given a revamped origin story in Wakanda Forever, as we learn the first Talokanil were 16th Century Mayans desperately fleeing the Spanish conquistadors. From their isolationist culture to their advanced, vibranium-based technology to the fact that they worship a jaguar god, the Talokanil is clearly meant to mirror Wakandans. 

Why does vibranium affect Talokanil physiology so much more than it does the Wakandans? Is the plant that the Talokanil discovered really so different from the Heart-Shaped Herb? Or is the fact that a Mayan god was involved a clue that this plant has special, mystical properties? Above all, what does this mean for Shuri now that she’s ingested the synthetic herb based on Talokan’s plant? Will she begin to exhibit strange new powers? 


 Vibranium is the Source of Mutation in the MCU? 

Now that Disney has completed its acquisition of 21st Century Fox, there’s a small but growing list of mutant characters beginning to appear in the MCU. Namor is the first to specifically refer to himself as a mutant. As he relays his tragic personal history to Shuri, Namor reveals that exposure to the vibranium-infused plant in the womb radically altered his DNA. He’s neither human nor Talokanil, but a mutant who possesses incredible strength, very slow aging, and the ability to fly and breathe in both water and air. 

Obviously, Wakanda Forever has major implications for the MCU as the journey toward a proper X-Men movie continues. But perhaps the biggest question raised in the sequel is whether vibranium itself is responsible for the creation of the mutant gene. Will other characters like Wolverine and Magneto be revealed to have been exposed to vibranium in the womb? Or is Namor effectively patient zero, and his descendants have spent the past 500 years spreading the mutant gene across the globe? Thanks to Ms. Marvel’s season finale, we know other mutants are beginning to emerge. 


Ross’s current Situation 

Everett K. Ross undergoes quite the bumpy journey in Wakanda Forever. We learn that Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ mysterious Valentina Allegra de Fontaine is both the Director of the CIA and Ross’ ex-wife. Ross is forced to choose between serving his country and his loyalty to his friends in Wakanda, and in the end, his ex is the one who happily arrests him for treason. 

The last time we have seen Ross in the sequel, he was being liberated by Okoye and presumably being relocated to Wakanda. Ross looks to be a man without a country now – a political refugee given sanctuary in Wakanda. Where does the character go from here? Will he live out his days as an ex-pat, or will he try to clear his name and return to duty? 


Will Director De Fontaine Attack Wakanda? 

After a handful of appearances that mostly involve recruiting impressionable young heroes to join the Thunderbolts, Valentina Allegra de Fontaine returns to play a much more substantial role in Wakanda Forever. 

We have a much clearer grasp of her motivations now. Director De Fontaine has tasked herself with preserving national security at all costs, and she has her eyes on Wakanda’s massive stash of vibranium. 

The sequel strongly suggests that it’s only a matter of time before the US and other nations make another play for Wakanda’s vibranium. In fact, that could very well be the premise of 2024’s Thunderbolts movie. Will Director De Fontaine dispatch her new team to Wakanda under the pretext of defending American interests? Maybe Wakanda’s decision to “kidnap” her ex-husband is all the political excuse she needs. 

That would certainly put Bucky in an interesting predicament in the movie. He, like Ross, owes a great deal to Shuri and her team. 

If Director De Fontaine does launch an invasion of Wakanda, does that mean the US will also stumble into a war with Talokan? At this point, The Thunderbolts may wind up being a Black Panther sequel in all but name. 

BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER, (aka BLACK PANTHER II), Lupita Nyong’o, 2022. © Marvel / © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

Toussaint as  Black Panther? 

Wakanda Forever saves its biggest surprise for last. The film’s mid-credits scene reveals the real reason Nakia has spent the past six years running a school in Haiti. She and T’Challa had a son, whose cover identity “Toussaint” is a nod to revolutionary figure François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture. T’Challa specifically wanted his son to be raised outside of the public spotlight. Given everything that happens in this movie, that was probably the right call. 

How will Toussaint factor into future Black Panther films, if at all? Given his young age, it’s not as if this character will be stepping up to replace M’Baku or Shuri anytime soon. At this point, we don’t know if Marvel has specific plans for Toussaint or if he’s simply meant to be a reminder that T’Challa’s legacy lives on in the MCU. 

It’s also interesting that T’Challa is the latest in a growing line of MCU heroes to become parents. Morgan Stark is the daughter of the late Tony Stark. Scarlet Witch magically conjured her sons into being. Even Thor has an adopted daughter now thanks to Thor: Love and Thunder. At some point, this stop being a coincidence and starts looking like a case of Marvel teeing up the next generation of Avengers. 

Read More: Avatar: The Way of Water: All the Latest Updates We Need to Know about the Sequel

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