Lupita Nyong’o plays Nakia in ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.’

Following the death of ‘Black Panther’ star Chadwick Boseman in 2020, Marvel Studios choose not to recast his titular role of T’Challa in the Oscar-winning 2018 superhero film’s new sequel, ‘Wakanda Forever.’ The Academy Award-nominated actor was set to reprise his role in the follow-up before his death. But when the studio decided to continue making the franchise’s next entry after his death and change its story, it wanted to honor his legacy in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

As a result, Marvel considered making one of several other characters, including M’Baku and Nakia, the new eponymous character in the sequel, which is now playing in theaters. During ‘Wakanda Forever’s development, various theories about which character would become the new Black Panther began circulating, with M’Baku and Nakia being the fan favorites to take on the moniker. But it was eventually confirmed that Shuri, not M’Baku and Nakia, would become the new Black Panther in ‘Wakanda Forever.’

In a new interview with Rolling Stone, ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s co-writer, Joe Robert Cole, confirmed that actor Winston Duke’s M’Baku and Lupita Nyong’o’s Nakia were initially considered to be the MCU’s next Black Panther. When asked if M’Baku was considered to become the character, the scribe said, “M’Baku certainly was someone that got kicked around a little bit.” He added that Nakia’s name also “got kicked around for sure.”

Shuri, who’s played by Letitia Wright, eventually took over the mantle as Black Panther in ‘Wakanda Forever,’ however. She permanently became the eponymous superhero after she temporarily took over the role in the film series when T’Challa fell into a coma.

But Cole and his co-writer, Ryan Coogler, who also directed the follow-up, felt that Shuri becoming the MCU’s new Black Panther fit perfectly with ‘Wakanda Forever’s story. The movie led her through a journey of grief that made her think the mantle should never come back to her, as she wasn’t sure if she could take on the responsibility of protecting Wakanda.

M’Baku and Nakia could still potentially become Black Panther in future film entries in the MCU, however. ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s ending shows M’Baku becoming the king of Wakanda, while Nakia is living in Haiti with her and T’Challa’s son, Toussaint. The sequel showed that Shuri regrew the heart-shaped herb, allowing others to become Black Panther.

By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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