Warning: this article contains spoilers for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”
The ending of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” leaves a few things up in the air, not the least of which is who is going to lead the Kingdom (or Queendom) of Wakanda. In the absence of the late Chadwick Boseman and his character T’Challa, director Ryan Coogler’s “Black Panther” sequel shifted to an ensemble-driven approach, with the women of Wakanda stepping more into the spotlight. However, by the end, Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) is dead, her coffin having ascended to the heavens like her son’s via the tractor beam of a Royal Talon Fighter. Ramonda’s successor, Princess Shuri (Letitia Wright), has also seemingly gone into exile, joining Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) in Haiti after seeing Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) on the Ancestral Plane and following his path of vengeance right up to the point of almost killing Namor (Tenoch Huerta Mejía).
Meanwhile, Okoye (Danai Gurira) has been stripped of her rank as leader of the Dora Milaje, leaving her to don a new set of Midnight Angel armor and head off into her own Disney+ series, much like freshman Marvel superhero Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne) as she returns to MIT for future Ironheart adventures. With the women of Wakanda now scattered to the wind, there’s only one man capable of leading Wakanda. At least, that’s what M’Baku (Winston Duke) seems to think as he steps forward on the traditional waterfall to make a challenge for the throne.
The only problem? There’s no one else there to challenge M’Baku. So does this mean he’s now the king of Wakanda? According to Winston Duke, the answer is yes.
‘It’s Kind Of Cool … Being Revealed As The King’
In an interview with Esquire, Duke discussed the possibility of “Black Panther 3” and what it might mean for M’Baku, saying:
“I myself, as a fan, would love to see how everything plays out … It’s kind of cool, though, being revealed as the King of Wakanda at the end of the movie … That’s huge. So whatever that entails, that’s gonna be a fun one.”
Duke also reflected on what makes a good king, saying, “I think any power or leadership is going to be defined by their willingness to think of the greater good for everyone instead of their own personal needs, and their own agendas. Which, you know, is easier said than done, given the history of the world.”
It’s worth noting that, although M’Baku sometimes brings a dose of levity to his scenes — enough that you might call him the comic relief — he’s already served as a tribal leader and sat on the throne of Jabari Land. And in “Wakanda Forever,” he furthermore shows his leadership skills by advising restraint in the conflict with Namor and the Talokanil, despite the fact that Namor has personally bested him in combat and given him every reason to want revenge, the way Shuri does.
This dovetails with the idea of a “willingness to think of the greater good” and sets M’Baku up as someone who does possess leadership skills. It doesn’t necessarily mean the “Black Panther” movie series is going to reorganize itself around Duke’s character, but films like Jordan Peele’s “Us” have shown that Duke and Nyong’o have their own star power. And with “Black Panther” having tragically lost Boseman, its original star, M’Baku’s ascension to the throne adds an interesting new dynamic to the ensemble going forward.
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Author: Joshua Meyer
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November 15, 2022