Usually, being excited about the next Marvel movie doesn’t come loaded with tragedy, but Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is something of an exception. The film had to be totally rethought following the tragic loss of Chadwick Boseman, the actor at the center of the first film.
Now, Wakanda is in mourning, and fans are trying to figure out what Ryan Coogler and company are going to do to make Wakanda Forever feel as triumphant and fulfilling as the first iteration. We won’t know for sure until the movie actually hits theaters, but there are some comics that may offer us insight into what Wakanda Forever might look like.
New Avengers by Jonathan Hickman
Tracking comic book canon is always tricky, but New Avengers is a pretty solid starting point if you want to understand what the relationship between T’Challa and Namor is like in the comics. Picking up after Namor has destroyed Wakanda after wielding part of the Phoenix Force. In New Avengers, though, the two have to work together to prevent inter-dimensional incursions alongside the Illuminati, two things MCU fans were first introduced to in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
T’Challa promises retribution for the attack on Wakanda when they no longer need one another, and the two wind up in a pitched battle after Namor decides to destroy another Earth when the Illuminati refuses. Ultimately, T’Challa leaves Namor beaten and close to death on a dying Earth, ultimately avenging his nation and its people.
Ironheart: Those With Courage
Fans who have been paying attention to the build-up to Wakanda Forever likely know that the film is also set to introduce Riri Williams, or Ironheart. The comics version of Riri is pretty intimately linked to Tony Stark, but Those With Courage gives Riri a chance to strike out on her own as she balances classes at MIT with her responsibilities as a superhero.
The overarching conflict of the story involves a group of world leaders who are kidnapped by the supervillain Clash, but the writer Eve L. Ewing makes sure that she takes center stage. Riri is evidently brilliant, but has a hard time connecting with the people around her. She also gets a spiffy, anime-adjacent suit for this run that we can only hope will eventually make its way into the movies.
Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Ta-Nehisi Coates has a MacArthur Genius grant for a reason. The grant may not have been awarded solely for his work on Black Panther, but A Nation Under Our Feet shows the way that a single writer can shape what Black Panther stories are about. The comic follows T’Challa as he struggles against dissent from inside his country.
A force known as the people splits the country apart, and T’Challa is ultimately forced to reckon with the limitations of the monarchy that has failed many of its people. In the end, T’Challa decides to institute a democratic form of government with the hope that it will ultimately be able to more fully reflect the will of Wakanda’s citizens. A Nation Under Our Feet is thoughtful in ways that have been reflected in both films, and Aneka, a central character in Coates’s issues, will be played by Michaela Coel in Wakanda Forever.
Shuri Vol. 1: The Search for Black Panther
Shuri’s first solo series, which was written by Nigerian-American novelist Nnedi Okorafor, follows T’Challa’s sister as she is forced to step into a leadership role in Wakanda. Shuri finds herself an unnatural fit for leadership, in large part because she’d rather be spending her time in the lab. Shuri knows, though, that a nation without a leader is an intensely vulnerable one, so she sets off to find her brother with help from Storm, Rocket Raccoon, and Groot.
Shuri won’t be able to rely on her brother in Wakanda Forever, unfortunately, and will have to decide what role she is supposed to play in Wakanda moving forward. Real-world tragedy has forced these circumstances on the characters in Wakanda Forever, and Shuri may give us some sense of how T’Challa’s sister will behave now that her big brother is gone.
Black Panther: World of Wakanda
An anthology series that covers the breadth and depth of life in Wakanda, World of Wakanda is an ideal way to get a broad look at the Wakandan culture that Ryan Coogler and his team so powerfully evoked in the original Black Panther. World of Wakanda is also a great complement to Ta-Nehisi Coates’s work, featuring origin stories for many of the characters that he introduces in his run.
World of Wakanda also gives a wide array of authors a chance to put their own spin on the world, and focus on different characters outside of T’Challa and his immediate family. Wakanda Forever seems likely to replicate that formula to some extent, giving us a broader look at the characters of Wakanda in order to better understand its culture and people.
Rise of the Black Panther
Ta-Nehisi Coates teamed up with a crew of other authors to tell this version of T’Challa’s origin story. Rise of the Black Panther takes a fairly expansive look at how T’Challa came to be king, and also provides new details on King T’Chaka, his father, and the mother he never really knew.
Origin stories are perhaps the most expected element of any superhero story, but in the hands of Coates and the rest of the team behind this comic, T’Challa comes to feel like a totally distinct character. The politics that drive the world of Wakanda have always been immensely fascinating, and Rise of the Black Panther gives them even more meaning than we already know they have.
If you’re wondering why Aneka wasn’t featured in the first film, Doomwar gives us one example of what she and the rest of the Midnight Angels may have been off doing. In the case of Doomwar, Wakanda selects a subgroup of the strongest Dora Milaje to battle Doctor Doom. While that obviously won’t be how things play out in Wakanda Forever, it’s possible that Doomwar could give you some intel on who the Midnight Angels are, and how they feel about Wakanda more generally. Aneka is among the most exciting new additions in Wakanda Forever, so any insight we can glean into her specifically is certainly worth exploring.
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