The vibranium claws are out as Ryan Coogler returns to the Marvel Cinematic Universe for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The sequel to 2018’s Black Panther marks the end of several chapters, closing off both Phase 4 of the MCU and Chadwick Boseman’s role as the OG Black Panther.
There’s a T’Challa-shaped hole in Wakanda Forever, but fear not, the presence of the former King of Wakandan looms large. Although Boseman has since passed on to the Ancestral Plane, there’s a who’s who of returning Black Panther alumni to carry the torch. Alongside this, Tenoch Huerta has the honour of ushering mutants into the MCU as Namor.
In a phase that’s given us highs like WandaVision and lows like Eternals, Wakanda Forever has the challenge of trying to redeem this largely experimental chapter of the world’s highest-grossing franchise. As with any Marvel movie, there’s a treasure trove of Easter eggs when we return to Wakanda and plumb the depth of Talokan. From touching tributes to hints at some marvellous mutants, here are 12 Easter eggs you might’ve missed in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
As we said, the legacy of Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa is a constant presence in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The theme of silence lets the audience grieve as both the purple-hued credits and the ending montage, which features Boseman, are unaccompanied by music.
Shuri mentions that her brother “suffered in silence,” while a CNN news report claims T’Challa died of a “mysterious illness.” It’s a sensitive nod to Boseman’s real-life diagnosis of colon cancer, which tragically took him in 2020. Very few knew about Boseman’s prognosis, which meant his death was even more tragic.
During T’Challa’s funeral procession, we see a painted mural that mirrors the real-life murals that were painted around the world when Boseman died. In Wakanda Forever, a translation of the mural reads: “The Panther King lives forever in us.”
While we’ll get on to the cameo of a certain purple-streaked villain later, there’s a sneakier one you might’ve missed. Although Paul Rudd doesn’t appear as Ant-Man – unless he’s hiding in his tiny form – Wakanda Forever teases him ahead of his return in Ant-Man 3.
During a news report, there’s a mention that Scott Lang is continuing his book tour with his autobiography, “Look Out For The Little Guy.” Ms Marvel confirmed Lang has a popular podcast, and as something of a celebrity, he’s not afraid to flaunt celebrity status, unlike Spider-Man.
This isn’t the only nod to the wider MCU, with a later news report mentioning a trade agreement with New Asgard. Following the cataclysmic events of Thor: Love and Thunder, it looks like Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie is still keen to keep New Asgard open.
A revamped origin story
Wakanda Forever faced something of a Namor crisis thanks to the events of James Wan’s Aquaman basically telling his origin story in 2018. Critics will say he’s a rip-off of Aquaman, but remember, Namor was fluttering around with wings on his ankles long before Arthur Curry.
Taking this in its stride, Coogler revamps Namor’s Atlantis origins with a Mesoamerican twist. Talakoan looks to be a reimagined version of the Aztec afterlife of Tlālōcān, which was one of 13 heavens specifically for those who drowned. Although Namor isn’t a god, he’s worshipped like K’uk’ulkan. Even though K’uk’ulkan is associated with the Yucatec Maya, the Plumed Serpent God appears in several Mesoamerican societies.
Huerta himself is of Aztec and Purépecha origin, so this rebrand of Namor fits the actor. Of course, there are Namor’s ties to a certain team of gifted youngsters. Thanks to the fact he predates Marvel Comics to back when it was Timely Comics, Namor is known as Marvel’s first mutant, The m-word has been skirted around in the MCU, but here, Namor actually says, “I’m a mutant.”
Welcome the Thunderbolts
One of Wakanda Forever’s big twists is the reveal that Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Valentina Allegra de Fontaine is the ex-wife of Everett Ross (Martin Freeman). The MCU managed to keep a lid on Val’s inclusion, which makes her role as the new Director of the CIA a complete surprise.
Even if Wakanda Forever could’ve easily taken place without Ross or Val, it shows the more clandestine side of the United States and is clearly setting up the likes of Captain America: New World Order and Thunderbolts. The latter recently revealed its lineup, which includes Valentina in some capacity.
Effectively serving as an evil Nick Fury, the MCU has been setting the stage for de Fontaine since she popped up in Black Widow. Since then, we’ve seen her peppered in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and now Wakanda Forever. Her endgame remains unclear, but we imagine chaos is on the cards.
A familiar voice
Lake Bell makes her live-action MCU debut, but don’t expect the Harley Quinn star to be coming back for more. Bell appears as Dr Graham and was one of the many casualties during the Talokan attack on an American vessel trying to mine viburnum.
This isn’t Bell’s first time in the MCU, as she recently voiced Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff in Marvel’s What…If? Beyond that, she also lent her vocals to Vanessa Fisk in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
Bell isn’t the only voice you might recognise. Wakanda Forever gives Shuri (Letitia Wright) her own J.A.R.V.I.S. in the form of Griot. In African culture, a griot is a travelling poet that keeps tradition alive. If you’re trying to place the voice, Griot is Trevor Noah, who previously voiced the Royal Talon Fighter in the first Black Panther.
The galaxy far, far away.
When Riri Williams, aka Ironheart (Dominique Thorne) are Shuri are kidnapped, the latter is given fancy garments to wear as a princess. Riri jokes that she shouldn’t trust Namor because this is exactly what happened to Princess Leia in the Star Wars movies.
Riri also mentions Beauty and the Beast and Indiana Jones, with all three properties being owned by Disney. As for the Star Wars joke, Leia is often given clothes by her captors. Lando Calrissian did it after they were betrayed to Darth Vader, and we all remember that gold bikini Jabba the Hutt made her wear.
This isn’t the only reference to the galaxy far, far away. If you look closely at Riri’s lockup, there’s a small figure of Maz Kanata on her desk. The mysterious Maz was famously played by Wakanda Forever co-star Lupita Nyong’o in the Star Wars sequel trilogy.
Tying up loose ends
Wakanda Forever was a who’s who of returning stars from the first movie. However, one Hollywood A-lister was MIA here. You might be questioning where Daniel Kaluuya’s W’Kabi is and whether he’s been killed off between movies.
In an interview with CinemaBlend, Coogler explained that W’Kabi had been banished after he betrayed T’Challa’s forces in Black Panther. In reality, there was a scheduling conflict, and Kuluuya was busy on Jordan Peele’s horror movie Nope.
There’s a throwaway line from Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) where she says W’Kabi has been banished, and Okoye (Danai Gurira) can visit him whenever she wants. It’s ironic that Ramonda gives Okoye a similar exile after she loses Shuri.
Eat your vegetables
Another welcome return was Winston Duke’s comedic M’Baku. The muscular leader of the Jabari Tribe stole every scene he was in, and when strolling into the throne room to discuss what to do about Namor, he’s gone full Bugs Bunny by chomping a carrot.
This deep cut circles back to a joke M’Baku made about the Jabari being vegetarians in Black Panther. When threatening Everett Ross, M’Baku said, “If you say one more word, and I’ll feed you to my children.” He then added, “I’m kidding. We’re vegetarians.”
Wakanda Forever sets M’Baku up for a major role in the inevitable threequel, with the movie’s climax seeing him challenge Shuri for the throne. As Shuri is off in Haiti, we imagine it’s a plot between the pair to let M’Baku rule in her stead because she doesn’t want to sit on the throne in Wakanda.
At one moment, Ramonda mentions how AI will kill us all one day. More than just some Black Mirror-inspired prediction of our eventual downfall, it seems like a pointed jibe at Avengers: Age of Ultron. The movie is the black sheep of the Avengers family but has developed a cult following since 2015.
Despite its flaws, Age of Ultron was praised for James Spader’s portrayal of the antagonistic AI. Wakanda is largely sealed off from the world, but we imagine Ramonda is well aware of Ultron and the aftermath of the Sokovia Accords.
Ramonda’s mention of killer robots is ironic, considering Shuri has made a name for herself as something of a technological wizard who vows not to repeat the mistakes of Tony Stark. We’ve got faith that Griot won’t suddenly turn on the Wakandans.
Music to our ears
If Black Panther: Wakanda Forever should get praise for anything, it’s bringing Rihanna out of retirement for the movie’s soundtrack. Alongside Tems’ “No Woman No Cry” which was used in the trailers, Rihanna’s “Lift Me Up” has had us reaching for the tissues.
This isn’t the only nod to Riri (no, not that one), as her Fenty beauty brand also gets a wink. When Okoye and Shuri try to infiltrate the MIT campus, Okoye is worried the makeup she uses to cover her Dora Milaje tattoos is too ashy.
A reassuring Shuri says, “It’s the right shade, Fenty 440. You look good.” Of course, we know it’s not. Moments later, a cocky Riri Williams mocks Okoye for looking ridiculous with that stuff on her head.
Return of the King
Okay, so maybe the Valentina de Fontaine cameo isn’t the most shocking. There might’ve been whispers that Michael B. Jordan was going to reprise his role as Erik Killmonger in the MCU, but it was kept a closely-guarded secret in Wakanda Forever.
After Shuri took the synthetic Heart-Shaped Herb, she expected to find T’Challa or Ramonda on the Ancestral Plane. Instead, she comes face-to-face with her villainous cousin. Killmonger tells Shuri that her father was a hypocrite for killing his own brother, while T’Challa was too noble when he spared Helmut Zemo’s life in Captain America: Civil War.
There are some interesting details in Shuri’s armour and what happens after she meets with Killmonger. Shuri’s Black Panther suit has gold trim similar to Killmonger’s, suggesting that she has the same rage that drove her cousin. In the end, though, the soothing words of her mother mean she spares Namor’s life and mirrors T’Challa.
The future of Wakanda
What is it with Phase 4 post-credit scenes and kids? Much like Thor: Love and Thunder focused on Gorr’s daughter (Love), and She-Hulk introduced Hulk’s offspring, Wakanda Forever reveals T’Challa’s secret son with Nakia.
At this rate, we’ll be setting up the Younger Young Avengers as a follow-up to Kate Bishop, Cassie Lang, and Hulk’s Skaar. The post-credit scene was more of an emotive one than setting up the future of the franchise, so we don’t imagine there will be a House of the Dragon-inspired feud where T’Challa Jr. comes for Shuri’s claim to the throne.
In the comics, T’Challa had a son called Azari T’Challa with Storm, but following T’Challa being written out of the MCU, the electrifying member of the X-Men will have to find a new love interest. Still, it’s a clever way to honour the character to see him live on in his son.
If you want to know more about Wakanda, we have guides to the best Black Panther characters as well as a Black Panther cast breakdown. If that’s not enough, we also have an article all about Black Panther 3.