Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s Marvel Cinematic Universe connections

Letitia Wright as Shuri in Marvel Studios' BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER. Photo by Annette Brown. © 2022 MARVEL.
Letitia Wright as Shuri in Marvel Studios' BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER. Photo by Annette Brown. © 2022 MARVEL. /

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has a distinct, emotional story to tell, yet the film also ventures outside of its borders to synchronize with the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever had more importance placed on it than most movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. First, because it is the follow-up to the culturally significant Black Panther, that blazed trails in terms of African American inclusion for mega-blockbuster movies, with a predominantly black cast and crew.

It had a huge theatrical following, with reports of churches buying out entire screenings. Black Panther broke box office records and became the first comic book superhero adaptation nominated for the Best Picture Oscar.

Then, Chadwick Boseman unexpectedly passed away a few years ago. The whole Marvel intro in Wakanda Forever is dedicated to Boseman, similar to Stan Lee’s tribute in front of Captain Marvel, which was the first MCU release after his passing.

Wakanda Forever postulates many parallels with the celebrated actor when handling the death of King T’Challa. Shuri laments how her brother suffered in silence and only told him about his illness until it was too late for her to save him. In real life, many did not know that Boseman was sick for several years, making it even more of a shock when he tragically departed.

The film also contains many Marvel Cinematic Universe connections.

Warning: Wakanda Forever spoilers ahead.

Wakanda Forever revisits the goddess Bast

Shuri pleads with the Panther God that she will put her beliefs in her if Bast can spare T’Challa’s life. As a woman of science, Shuri is one Wakandan who hasn’t always placed her faith in the more religious aspects of their culture. Bast’s physical form can be spotted in the prior MCU movie, Thor: Love and Thunder. She is sitting right in front of Valkyrie and Jane in Omnipotence City as audience members to the great and powerful Zeus.

Namor’s MCU roots

Wakanda’s adversary in this film is Namor, ruler of Talokan. His comic book roots of Atlantis were obviously changed to differentiate the anti-hero from DC’s Aquaman. M’Baku posits that Namor could be as strong as the Hulk. The Sub-Mariner definitely rivals the green giant in numerous Marvel comics scuffles over the years.

Although this is the first appearance of Namor and his people in the MCU, there were previous hints of their existence. First was in Iron Man 2, when key locations on Fury’s map were dotted out, including Wakanda and one indicating a pivotal spot in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. In Avengers: Endgame, Okoye reports a series of underwater earthquakes to Black Widow and the Avengers.

In Wakanda Forever, the Sub-Mariner asserts to the Talokans that they will stand and fight instead of moving again. Could they have been aware that SHIELD did in fact discover their hidden home in the ocean, forcing them to relocate? Since he was their king for hundreds of years, he could have been referring to something from further back in their history.

Namor confirms the existence of mutants in the MCU

When relaying his origin story, Namor calls himself a mutant (which he was in the comic books). The word is used in a matter-of-fact manner, almost as a simple way one may describe how he came to be the way he is. But fans know that mutants have a special meaning in the Marvel universe, mainly due to the superhero team, the X-Men.

The leader of the X-Men, Professor-X, sat on the council of the Illuminati in an alternate universe in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. So we know that some form of the mutant lineup will be heading to the MCU in a huge way down the line. The self-aware She-Hulk even asks KEVIN, in the She-Hulk finale, when the X-Men are coming to the franchise.

Also, Ms. Marvel learns from Bruno (in her own series finale) that she is a kind of mutant – stepping away from her Inhuman comic book pedigree to expand on the coming wave of mutants. Namor is the first character to knowingly use the term to refer to himself. So mutants are becoming more familiar in the MCU, even if we will have to wait a while longer for the full incorporation of the X-Men.

Riri Williams enters the MCU

From the mutant connection to an iron link, Wakanda Forever introduces Dominique Thorne’s Riri Williams. She is a genius on a Stark scale who makes her Ironheart suit with limited resources that callback the less refined Mark I from the original Iron Man movie.

In her first flight, she experiences similar deficiencies that Tony Stark does when testing out his Mark II – not being able to fly as high as they would like. Riri hammering away on metal in Shuri’s lab mirrors Tony working on his Iron Man armor.

The return of Agent Ross… and Valentina Allegra de Fontaine

Wakanda Forever brings Martin Freeman’s Agent Ross back to the franchise, but this time with a startling relation; he is the ex-husband of Valentina Allegra de Fontaine. It has been alluded that she will be a contemporary version of Nick Fury, although twisted with her own motives. She has recruited Yelena in Black Widow and U.S. Agent Walker in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.

Here, Valentina gets more flesh put on her narrative bones, with some development of her personal backstory beginning to be incorporated, plus it is revealed that she is the new director of the CIA. However, it is a little surprising that Kevin Feige opted out of a post-credits scene when one of her future projects, such as the Thunderbolts, could have been teased.

Killmonger returns in Wakanda Forever

Killmonger also makes an unforeseen appearance, considering he was killed at the end of Black Panther. Here he returns in the Ancestral Plane, asking Shuri if she will follow in T’Challa’s footsteps as a leader with principles or become a Black Panther of action, like Killmonger.

She straddles both concepts, but in the end does not kill Namor, which matches the morality of her brother. Zemo assassinated Shuri and T’Challa’s father, in Captain America: Civil War, and T’Challa saved Zemo from shooting himself. In this film, Namor kills their mother, and Shuri chooses the side of good, ultimately sparing Namor’s life.

A callback to Black Panther

Queen Ramonda’s words of wisdom to her son in Black Panther, when he tells him to show his challenger who he really is are echoed in Wakanda Forever’s climax. Shuri hears the same advice from her mother calling out from the Ancestral Plane to guide her daughter in her conflict with the Sub-Mariner.

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What did you think of all the connections in Wakanda Forever? Did you spot any others? Let us know in the comments below.