The identity of the new Black Panther in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is being kept a secret, but the film’s greatest mystery is not who the new Black Panther is, but how there’ll be another Black Panther in the first place. Since the passing of Chadwick Boseman in 2020, there has been speculation on how T’Challa/Black Panther will fit into the Marvel Cinematic Universe going forward. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever director Ryan Coogler has stressed the importance of honoring Boseman’s work, so T’Challa has not been recast for the upcoming sequel. Instead, a new character will be taking over as Wakanda’s protector. T’Challa’s sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) is the most likely candidate, however, there is also a theory that Wakanda Forever will have multiple Black Panthers.
Whoever dons the suit will be at an immediate disadvantage to their predecessor due to the lack of Heart-Shaped Herbs in Wakanda. As seen in Black Panther, the Heart-Shaped Herb is a vibranium-infused plant native to Wakanda that can manifest superhuman abilities when ingested, these include enhanced strength, speed, and agility. The Heart-Shaped Herb also connects the Black Panther to the Ancestral Plane and allows them to commune with the panther Goddess Bast and previous Black Panthers. However, in Black Panther Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) destroyed the carefully cultivated royal crop, meaning T’Challa and Killmonger should have been the last Wakandans to get superpowers.
Arguably the smartest character in the MCU, if anyone was able to replicate the Heart-Shaped Herb it would be Shuri. Unfortunately, she has so far been unable to create a synthetic alternative to Black Panther’s Heart-Shaped Herb, or replicate the plant’s properties. Consequently, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever may star a Black Panther more reliant on technology than any previous incarnation. Alternatively, Shuri’s search may actually spark Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s central conflict.
Talocan is set to come into conflict with Wakanda in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Ruled by Namor, the underwater kingdom is home to a unique ecosystem that may hold the key to finding more of the Heart-Shaped Herb. It would make sense that, with such a large impact, debris from the meteorite that brought vibranium to Earth scattered around the globe. Even though the vast majority of vibranium ended up imbedded in Wakanda, it is likely that such an impact also affected other lands to some extent, leaving small vibranium deposits in hard-to-reach areas of the globe, including, perhaps the ocean floor.
While Namor is a confirmed mutant, the rest of the Talocanians must possess some superhuman capabilities to be able to survive at such depths. It is likely that, like the Wakandans, their evolution and culture were greatly assisted by the presence of vibranium. With that in mind, the native plants, animals, and mineral deposits could also be irradiated by vibranium. Should Shuri get her hands on these vibranium-rich plants and minerals, she may be able to replicate the Heart-Shaped Herb.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s greatest mystery is not the identity of the new Black Panther, but how it is even possible for them to attain any powers in the first place. During his time as Black Panther T’Challa combined the new and the traditional, using advanced technology created by Shuri alongside ingesting the Heart-Shaped Herb to boost his human attributes. With the powerful plant all but gone however, the MCU’s new Black Panther will have to look elsewhere to get their powers, and, should their search send them underwater, they may encounter an ancient civilization with a grudge.