The beginning of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever starts with the death of King T’Challa, throwing the whole nation into disarray. His mother, Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), assumed her duties as Wakanda’s sovereign ruler despite her grief. But problems beset her reign, including the governments of the world trying to obtain Wakanda’s vibranium and then with Namor and the Kingdom of Talokan waging war on them. Ultimately, in a brazen attack on Wakanda, Namor took Ramonda’s life. Then the line of succession really came into question and we were left wondering who Wakanda’s new ruler would be. In the end of Wakanda Forever, M’Baku became Wakanda’s new king. Here’s how it all shook out in the end when it came to Wakanda’s throne.
The Black Panther Is Not Always Wakanda’s Ruler
Traditionally, the ruler of Wakanda is often also the nation’s protector, the Black Panther. But sometimes, those roles are separate. When King T’Chaka grew too old to be Black Panther, his son T’Challa assumed the role. When we met T’Challa in Civil War, he was already the Panther. That was even before he was crowned king. Towards the final act of Wakanda Forever, his sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) recreated the Heart-Shaped Herb synthetically and became the new Black Panther. However, she did not take the throne. Instead, fan-favorite M’Baku, played by Winston Duke, ascended to the throne to become Wakanda’s new king.
M’Baku Is Wakanda’s New King (For Now) in Wakanda Forever
Shuri decided not to appear at the crowing ceremony after choosing to ally herself with Talokan. She sent M’Baku of the Jabari (Winston Duke) in her place to take the throne. While we don’t see what happens in the actual crowning ceremony, we don’t think anyone has the gumption to fight M’Baku for the throne.
Winston Duke himself discussed M’Baku’s Wakanda Forever journey. He noted, “It’s kind of cool, though, being revealed as the King of Wakanda at the end of the movie… That’s huge. So, whatever that entails, it’s gonna be a fun one.”
In addition to this confirmation, we know that M’Baku became a staunch ally of T’Challa in the aftermath of the first Black Panther film, as seen in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. In Wakanda Forever, he showed solid judgment and a diplomatic sensibility that befits the throne. We’d like to think that, at this point, the people of Wakanda would gladly welcome him as their ruler. M’Baku has more than proven himself worthy of being Wakanda’s king.
Prince T’Challa II Could Become King of Wakanda After M’Baku
Of course, M’Baku is merely the steward of Wakanda’s throne for the foreseeable future. Because as the mid-credits sequence informed us, Nakia and T’Challa had a son, a child they kept secret from the eyes of the Wakandan ruling council. Given that young Toussaint (or T’Challa II, as is his royal name) was about six when we met him, it’s safe to say that he was born about a year after the events of Black Panther, so right before the Blip. Nakia, T’Challa, and Ramonda wanted him raised away from the pressures of the throne, so Nakia took him to Haiti. He is next in line to succeed M’Baku as king when he comes of age.
Will We See Adult T’Challa II Sooner Rather Than Later?
Now, you may be thinking that this means it’ll be at least a decade before we see T’Challa II take the throne and the Black Panther mantle. However, this is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Alternate timeline shenanigans are coming up soon in Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars. It would not be beyond the realm of possibility for time-traveling warlord Kang to take young T’Challa II (and perhaps other children of famous MCU heroes) to a place where time flows differently. They might emerge in our time instantly as young adults, or even older. We have a precedent in the comics, too, although it’s with a different character.
Marvel Comics did this with the character of Cable. He was the infant son of the X-Men’s Cyclops’ and Jean Grey’s clone, who barely had time to be a child. He was whisked away to an alternate future, and then emerged as the adult warrior Cable in our time. Don’t be surprised if the MCU pulls something like this with young T’Challa, if only so that he can be our Black Panther in a potential third film. But in the meantime, the ruler and king of Wakanda is still M’Baku. The outside world had better proceed with caution.
Originally published on November 14, 2022.