‘Wakanda Forever’ Writer Confirms M’Baku and Nakia Were Considered to Become the New Black Panther

Popular on Variety

SPOILER ALERT: This post contains spoilers for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” now playing in theaters.

Now that “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” has been playing in theaters for over a week, the entire world knows that Letitia Wright’s Shuri becomes the new Black Panther following the death of T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman). But Shuri’s emergence as the eponymous superhero wasn’t a forgone conclusion when the “Wakanda Forever” script needed to be overhauled following Boseman’s death. Screenwriter Joe Robert Cole confirmed to Rolling Stone that other characters were considered in the writers room as potential Black Panther replacements.

“We would kick around the ideas, and try to extrapolate where the story goes and what’s the most impactful choice — what’s the best journey?” Cole said. “And where do you go after the film in terms of those characters. M’Baku certainly was someone that got kicked around a little bit.”

Cole said Shuri was an easier decision since the character does become the new Black Panther in the Marvel comic books. “There’s a natural organic-ness, I guess is the best way to say it, to her becoming Panther [because of what happens in the comics],” he said. “But you kick the tires on all sorts of ideas. And you just want to make the best decision and do what’s best for the story.”

When the Rolling Stone reporter said that Nakia, played by Lupita Nyong’o, would’ve been a great choice for the new Black Panther, Cole responded, “That got kicked around! Her name got kicked around for sure.”

Choosing a new Black Panther was a direct result of Boseman’s death, but one thing that didn’t change between the two “Black Panther 2” scripts was the existence of T’Challa’s child. In “Wakanda Forever,” it’s revealed in the mid-credits scene that T’Challa had a son who is living in Haiti with Nakia.

“T’Challa had a child in a previous iteration of the script prior to Chad’s passing. Him having a child was always in the DNA of what we wanted to do,” Cole said. “We just weren’t sure, after he passed, about the best way to incorporate him. So there were various iterations of his son being in our new story. And we finally landed on the reveal at the end.”

Cole added, “There was a point where I think when Ramonda [Angela Bassett] goes to Haiti, we had talked about potentially having him be revealed there. So we knew we wanted him to be a part of the movie in some way, and landed, I think, on the best possible version.”

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is now playing in theaters nationwide.