Wakanda Forever: The top three contenders to be the next Black Panther

Following the much-anticipated release of the first teaser for Marvel's Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, speculation has begun over who will be the next Black Panther.

Following the emotional reaction to Marvel's Black Panther: Wakanda Forever first teaser, speculation has begun over who will be the next Black Panther.
Following the emotional reaction to Marvel's Black Panther: Wakanda Forever first teaser, speculation has begun over who will be the next Black Panther.  © imago/Everett Collection

The sequel's first teaser was released this weekend at the 2022 Comic-Con and boy, did it spark a conversation.

The visually stunning and gut-punching preview for the upcoming movie was tough to watch as viewers saw glimpses of the Wakanda nation mourning the death of their King T'Challa, previously played by the late Chadwick Boseman.

Director Ryan Coogler has stood firm with his decision not to recast Boseman, but the teaser did confirm that he has picked a successor to continue the Black Panther's legacy.

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Who could this be?

Here are the characters most likely to take on the mantle.

Shuri

Letitia Wright's Shuri, who is the Princess of Wakanda, has been rumored to take over the mantle as the Black Panther following Chadwick Boseman's untimely passing.
Letitia Wright's Shuri, who is the Princess of Wakanda, has been rumored to take over the mantle as the Black Panther following Chadwick Boseman's untimely passing.  © IMAGO/ZUMA Wire

This is one is somewhat of an obvious guess, as Letitia Wright's Shuri has been rumored to step up to the plate for quite some time.

Not only is Shuri the Princess of Wakanda, but she's also one of the smartest humans in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with her genius rivaling that of Iron-Man and Dr. Bruce Banner.

From the teaser, it's clear that her brother's death ends up taking a heavy toll on the engineer, as she will either way have to step up and protect her kingdom.

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In the comics, Shuri does become the Black Panther and creates own her new suit.

With the future of Wakanda at stake, the tech-savvy princess could be the best choice to save it.

Nakia

Lupita Nyong'o's polas Nakia, a spy for Wakanda and war dog, who was also in love with T'Challa.
Lupita Nyong'o's polas Nakia, a spy for Wakanda and war dog, who was also in love with T'Challa.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

The undercover spy and war dog may have been considered a traitor amongst her people.

But Nakia was also the former flame that sparked T'Challa's heart.

It's unclear how much time has passed since the King's death, or what had happened between him and Lupita Nyong'o's character in that time span.

Either way, as the preview showed, the spy is still around and fighting to protect Wakanda.

What if she's the one viewers saw flexing the black panther claws in the latex suit?

Nakia is a trainer warrior and one of the very few close confidants of T'Challa, so the late King could've also left something very vital with his once romantic partner – a Black Panther suit.

Bucky Barnes/The Winter Solider

Sebastian Stan's Bucky Barnes has ties to Wakanda and owes the country after working with a common enemy in The Falcon and The Winter Solider.
Sebastian Stan's Bucky Barnes has ties to Wakanda and owes the country after working with a common enemy in The Falcon and The Winter Solider.  © imago/Cinema Publishers Collection

Yes, this one may seem a little left field, but bear with us for a moment.

While Sebastian Stan hasn't been confirmed to appear in the Black Panther sequel, never say never.

Many may recall Bucky Barnes was given asylum by Wakanda while on the run and healing from his Hydra mind-control, which his how he earned the nickname "the White Wolfe" and his cybernetic arm.

Yet, Barnes also is on Wakanda's bad side now for teaming up with a common enemy in the series The Falcon and The Winter Solider. The war hero's unfinished business with the country could be addressed in the upcoming sequel.

While Barnes becoming the Black Panther is a stretch as far as making amends with Wakanda, what better way to show loyalty then bearing the symbol that protected the nation for years.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will debut in theaters November 11.

Cover photo: imago/Everett Collection

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