All told, it doesn’t really feel like we’ve been in the MCU’s Phase 4 for that long–maybe because the pace of content releases has skyrocketed from two movies a year to two-to-three movies a year plus three-to-four shows. And now, here we are at the end. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever marks the official transition from Phase 4 into Phase 5 which will officially kick off with Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania next year. But before we can go galavanting in another dimension, there’s some important business we have to attend to here and now in Wakanda.
We’re getting into some major spoilers from this point on so if you haven’t seen Black Panther: Wakanda Forever yet, please tread carefully!
Wakanda Forever is a movie with a lot of moving parts all working towards their own individual endings, so we’re going to do our best to break them down piece by piece for the sake of clarity. First, we’ll look at the Wakandans themselves and the nation as a whole. The Wakandans suffered some major blows at the hands of the Talokanil, racking up some disaster-movie levels of destruction and ultimately culminating in the death of Queen Ramonda. This means that the nation has a lot of work to do as the dust settles to make sure everyone gets back on their feet.
Wakanda as a nation ends things at the height of their relief efforts with the nation being rebuilt–with a new king at the forefront. That’s right: Shuri decides to step away from royal duties at the end of the movie, allowing M’Baku to “challenge” for the throne once and for all, uncontested. We don’t see Shuri and M’Baku discussing this plan but it’s heavily implied that the two of them worked it out together beforehand, though the elders all seem pretty shocked. It’s safe to assume that M’Baku’s rule will bring about some changes to Wakanda, though they’ll likely be very positive.
Meanwhile, Riri Williams leaves Wakanda to return to the USA, where she’ll presumably go back to school and continue working as an inventor. We won’t have to wait very long to see exactly what that entails, however–she’s got her own Disney+ TV show in the works. Riri doesn’t get to keep the armor she made while in Wakanda, so one would assume that the show will likely focus on her developing the Iron Heart armor in earnest with her new knowledge.
Also in the states, Everett Ross, who spent the movie trying to feed the Wakandans classified information right under the nose of his ex-wife Val de la Fontaine (that’s right–Ross and Val were apparently married) ends the movie narrowly skirting some hot water. It’s revealed that Val had been manipulating Ross the whole time, spying on his communications to Wakanda, and eventually allowed that shoe to drop on him. If Val has her way, Ross will be sent to prison for life.
Thankfully, the Wakandans don’t plan on letting their ally go down so easily. Ross ends the movie being rescued from a prison transport by Okoye. We don’t know where she plans on taking him, but we can assume he won’t be staying in America.
Namor and the residents of Talokan are in a similarly precarious diplomatic situation as things begin to settle. We leave him having been defeated by Shuri, returning to his people who are simultaneously grateful to have him alive but disappointed that the war they’ve been training for isn’t actually coming to pass. Namora confronts him about this particular issue, and Namor reveals his play: He’s not actually planning on setting aside his war-like ways. Instead, he sees this “alliance” with Wakanda as a means to an end when it comes to being rid of the threat of the surface. One day, he says, the surface is going to come for Wakanda and when that happens, Talokan will be Wakanda’s only ally. This will put them in a powerful position to eliminate their enemies.
Speaking of Talokan, we leave the movie unsure of exactly how much the surface world knows of them. There was an awful lot of evidence left from their various attacks, and we know that the government (and specifically Val) are very interested in continuing to follow those breadcrumbs, but as far as we actually see in the movie, no other country noticed or paid attention to the massive ocean battle between the Talokanil and the Wakandans meaning their secret is safe for now.
Which brings us to the post credits scene and Shuri’s ending.
The New Black Panther
Shuri may be the new Black Panther, but she has stepped away from Wakanda for an indeterminate amount of time. She’s gone to visit Nakia in Haiti, where she plans to start processing her grief for her brother and mother in earnest, rather than burying herself in her work.
However, Nakia has one final surprise for her. It’s revealed that she had secretly had a child with T’Challa before he died, and had been raising him unbeknownst to anyone, in Haiti. He’s around six-years-old now and goes by the Haitian name Toussaint–but his Wakandan name is actually T’Challa, after his father.
It’s not clear exactly what the future has in store for this kid, but it’s clear that Shuri’s family legacy will not end with her–and the future of the Black Panther mantle is secured even if she decides to set it down at some point in the future.
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