If you thought you were done crying when the credits for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever began rolling, you were simply fooling yourself. As newly-minted Black Panther Shuri symbolically moved past her grief by burning her mourning garments, the post-credit scene to the film stirred a whole new batch of emotions. If you haven’t seen the film yet and wish not to be spoiled, turn back now as we’ll take a look at what the surprising PCS might mean for the future of the franchise.
The PCS reveals that Nakia hasn’t just been hiding out in Haiti mourning the loss of her lover, King T’Challa but rather has been raising their son, Prince T’Challa. As Shuri and the audience learn all about the royal son, who goes by the name Toussaint in Haiti, it becomes clear that the young Prince has been taken away from the craziness of succession in Wakanda but is being prepared to ascend to the throne one day. Only 6 years old, Prince T’Challa has a long road ahead of him before he’s ready to become King and Protector of Wakanda, not to mention the backlash and political ramifications of revealing his existence to Wakanda. What could his existence mean for the future of the Black Panther franchise?
According to Executive Producer Nate Moore, there are multiple D+ projects being developed within and adjacent to the World of Wakanda. The events of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever could easily lead to several such projects. While fans might be familiar with rumors of an Okoye-centric project (which could become a Midnight Angels), the PCS of Wakanda Forever could turn into another project sometime down the road. With Marvel Studios Multiverse Saga slate pretty full, there might not be room in it for a third Black Panther film and director Ryan Coogler isn’t quite ready to make the decision about whether he wants to sign on for it or not, but the longer it takes for Black Panther 3 to hit theaters, the older Prince T’Challa gets to be. Is there room for a streaming project about Prince T’Challa between now and when Black Panther 3 hits theaters? Or, perhaps it’s better to ask if there’s room for one between now and when Avengers: Secret Wars hits theaters?
Ultimately, the PCS of Wakanda Forever doesn’t truly feel like it’s setting up much of anything as much as it’s making a statement in line with the film’s subtitle: the legacy of T’Challa, and Wakanda, will continue on. With the deaths of T’Challa and Ramonda, Shuri stood as the last member of the family who had ruled Wakanda since their ancestor, Bashenga, became the first Black Panther and united four of the five tribes of Wakanda into one nation. Prince T’Challa serves as a promise that the line will continue for another generation. But will audiences ever see the Prince become the Black Panther?
It’s a tough question to answer because, in the comics, 616-T’Challa doesn’t have a son. Some alternate universe T’Challas have had children, but for the most part any story involving Prince T’Challa will be an original. And again, whether or not those stories end up being told is a big question. It’s possible, maybe even likely, that while Marvel Studios chose not to recast Chadwick Boseman in Wakanda Forever, the potential to do so down the road a few years in Avengers: Secret Wars remains tempting. A post-Secret Wars MCU could potentially be built around one new universe in which characters from others find themselves together. In that case, a new actor coming in as a Variant T’Challa provides opportunity for Marvel Studios to have the character working alongside the Fantastic Four and, yes, the X-Men where a potential relationship with Storm can finally come to the big screen.
That’s not to say Marvel Studios may not chose to keep Prince T’Challa in the plans. A D+ series about the young Prince, his mother and aunt could be a way to continue to explore the rich history of Wakanda or another film, 5+ years down the road set in Wakanda could end up exploring the changing political landscape of the country, a theme that’s often been explored in the comics. So while it’d be great to “know” just what Prince T’Challa’s appearance means for the future of Wakanda, all it really does is ensure that there is one.