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Marvel's 'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever': What to Know Before the Movie's Release Friday

It's almost time for Black Panther 2, which features Rihanna's new song and the debut of Marvel antihero Namor. Here's what we know about the film, including a possible streaming date.

Namor emerging from the water in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Namor the Sub-Mariner makes an appearance in the Wakanda Forever trailer.
Disney

Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman can't be replaced, but the world of his character lives on. Director Ryan Coogler is back to direct Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the sequel to 2018's Marvel blockbuster. The movie opens Friday. 

CNET's Sean Keane reviewed Wakanda Forever, which he says "manages the delicate balancing act of working beautifully as a sequel to the 2018 movie, a touching tribute to Chadwick Boseman's character and a complex, thrilling MCU adventure."

What's the Wakanda Forever release date and when will it stream?

The Black Panther sequel hits theaters on Nov. 11. 

There's no word on when it will stream on Disney Plus, but we can hazard a guess. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness hit Disney Plus after around 45 days, which is roughly on par with the theatrical release window for most studios before their big films are released on streaming services. So if you want to see it in the next month or so, you're going to need to head to your local theater. Tickets are already on sale.

New music from Rihanna

A rumor got confirmed in October when Rihanna shared a clip from new song, Lift Me Up, which is included on the Wakanda Forever soundtrack. It's her first new single in six years.

The first Black Panther film featured All the Stars, a song by Kendrick Lamar and SZA, in its end credits. That song was nominated for an Oscar, a Golden Globe and four Grammys, though it didn't win.

Who's in the Black Panther 2 cast?

The sequel assembles a familiar group, starting with director Coogler, who also co-wrote the first film's screenplay. Letitia Wright is back as T'Challa's sister, Shuri; Winston Duke returns as warrior M'Baku; and Angela Bassett is back as Ramonda, mother of T'Challa and Shuri. Danai Gurira, who plays Okoye, head of the Dora Milaje, Wakanda's all-female special forces, is back, and so is Martin Freeman, who plays CIA agent Everett Ross. 

A major new character will be Riri Williams/Ironheart, a genius teen inventor, and the one seen in the trailer building her own iron suit with heart cutout. After the movie, she'll be seen again in an upcoming Disney Plus streaming series called Ironheart. (We've got lots more information about that show here.)

Acclaimed British writer, director and actor Michaela Coel plays Aneka, who in the comics was kicked out of the Dora Milaje, but in the trailer appears to be fighting alongside them.

Tenoch Huerta is playing Namor the Sub-Mariner, a longtime favorite character from the comics. The trailer shows him leading the forces of underwater Atlantis against Wakanda.

An important member of the Black Panther world won't be returning: Daniel Kaluuya told Rotten Tomatoes in July that he did not reprise his role as W'Kabi, who is T'Challa/Black Panther's best friend. Kaluuya was filming the Jordan Peele movie Nope at the same time he would've been needed for Black Panther 2.

First trailer

The first trailer for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever stole the show at San Diego Comic-Con in July. Let's break it down.

Funeral for a king

It seems obvious from the first sad strains of classic song No Woman, No Cry, that T'Challa's death is reverberating through Wakanda. "Good friends we have, and good friends we've lost," the lyrics proclaim, as quiet, elegant scenes of T'Challa's teary family and friends are shown. The cause of his death isn't explained in the trailer, but we assume the movie will eventually address what happened. T'Challa's sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) and mother Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) are seen walking somberly in what appears to be a funeral procession, with Shuri holding the Black Panther helmet.

Namor is born

A pregnant woman is seen, and then she appears to be giving birth underwater. It's not stated, but it looks like the wing-footed baby born is Namor the Sub-Mariner, who will be played as an adult by Tenoch Huerta. Namor is the child of a human male and a princess of the underwater kingdom of Atlantis. An adult Namor is later seen in several scenes in the trailer, such as at 1:36, when he and others are blasted with energy while standing on a beach, and M'Baku (Winston Duke) leaps at him from a boat.

It sure looks as if the movie will pit Atlantis, led by Namor, against Wakanda, led by whoever's trying to step in for T'Challa, and though we don't know the background of the movie conflict, the two lands are notorious comic-book enemies. CIA agent Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) shows up looking worried.

You'll see a lot of characters with light blue skin in the trailer. Those are Namor's fellow Atlanteans, but apparently because his father is human, he doesn't share that skin color. Atlantis itself seems to be inspired by the Maya civilization.

Family losses

An anguished Queen Ramonda is heard screaming that she is the queen of the world's most powerful nation, and her entire family is gone. Shuri isn't dead in the movie, but T'Challa and T'Chaka, their father, are both gone. Some have speculated that Ramonda is speaking after the Thanos snap, which took both Shuri and T'Challa, though they were later restored. Or could Shuri be thought dead in the film's setting, due to some other event?

Ironheart

At 1:33 in the trailer, Riri Williams/Ironheart is seen, played by young actress Dominique Thorne. She seems to be building her own Iron Man-style suit, and is shown cutting out a heart symbol, signifying her name. There's a touching scene, too, where she and Shuri share a handshake in Shuri's lab.

Aneka in blue

The Dora Milaje, Wakanda's all-female army of defenders, also make an appearance. One of them, dressed in blue, is Aneka (Michaela Coel); she has an interesting backstory in the comics, where she was stripped of her rank in the group for killing an abusive chieftain, so we'll have to see how much, if any, of that history makes it into the movie. The blue armor is that of the Midnight Angels, an elite group within the Dora Milaje.  

A new Black Panther emerges

In the very last seconds of the trailer, someone who appears to be wearing the Black Panther suit is seen unleashing claws. Many have speculated that this is Shuri, taking over the role from her late brother, but of course Marvel's not letting that spoiler slip too early.

The music in the Black Panther 2 trailer

First we hear a cover version of Bob Marley's song No Woman, No Cry, performed beautifully by Nigerian singer Tems.

Then the music switches to incorporate Kendrick Lamar's Alright.

Remembering Chad

Chadwick Boseman captivated audiences in 2018's Black Panther playing T'Challa, king and protector of the fictional nation of Wakanda. But unbeknownst to fans, the actor had been diagnosed with colon cancer even before the first film came out, and tragically, he died on Aug. 28, 2020, at just 43. For a while after the news, sequel plans were understandably the last thing on the minds of fans. 

Even though T'Challa wasn't recast, his Black Panther mantle moves on to others, including, possibly, Shuri, T'Challa's sister, played by Letitia Wright. And Feige has said that the film won't include a computer-generated version of Boseman. The trailer sure seems to indicate that a woman is wearing the Black Panther garb at the end of the footage (and a later trailer gave a big hint).

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Danai Gurira (Okoye) on set with director Ryan Coogler.

Matt Kennedy/Marvel Studios

Setting: Wakanda Forever

The film's setting was always obvious. By finally showing T'Challa's homeland of Wakanda on screen, Black Panther handed Marvel a new and creative setting not just for Black Panther solo movies but for visits from his colleagues in the Avengers. Almost the entire third act of Avengers: Infinity War was set in the fictional African nation. 

But it looks from the trailer as if there will be ventures to the underwater world of Atlantis and possibly to the United States as well. At least, those cars and street don't look like anything in smooth, futuristic Wakanda.

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Multiple sequels

The first Black Panther was such an enormous success there's no way it will have only one sequel -- assuming fans accept and appreciate the second film, even without Boseman.

"Panther obviously is a big swing that we hope to continue through many sequels and take some of these characters and put them in other franchises because I do think there's a way to cross-pollinate in an interesting way," producer Nate Moore told Screen Rant in 2018.

Long live the king

Any new Black Panther films, however, will forever be touched by the memory of Boseman.

"He was as smart and kind and powerful and strong as any person he portrayed," Feige said. "Now he takes his place alongside them as an icon for the ages."