Who Could Michaela Coel Be Playing in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever?
Last night news broke from Variety that Emmy award-nominated I May Destroy You actress, director, and writer Michaela Coel will be joining the cast of Marvel’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Coel joins Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Daniel Kaluuya, Winston Duke, Lupita Nyong’o, Florence Kasumba, and Angela Bassett, who will be reprising their roles from the original film. Ryan Coogler returns as director and production on the film has already begun in Atlanta.
While we know she is joining the cast, we do not know who she will be playing in the sequel. Her particular role and plot details on the movie in general have all been kept close to the vest, especially following the tragic death of Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman.
So who is it that Coel could be playing? Right now, the most popular guess is Ororo Munroe, aka Storm. On top of being one of the most powerful mutants in the X-Men universe, Ororo was T’Challa’s wife in the comics for some time and has a connected history to the Black Panther mythos. When she was younger, Ororo felt called to wander into the Serengeti as a teenager and meets T’Challa. The two share a bond but eventually go separate ways.
As the first major female character of African descent in comics, Storm has always been a hugely important character for many people. Disappointing casting has plagued her live-action adaptations, so having the uber-talented Coel in the role would be truly excellent. A dark-skinned woman finally as Storm is the timeline we deserve.
However, so far the MCU has not made any solid plans to bring in mutants and while the multiverse is setting up that as a possibility, I am not quite sure if they are ready to bring in Storm. Also, since they focused on T’Challa and Nakia as a romantic couple, I don’t think they would want to do much Storm/T’Challa stuff, especially when Chadwick Boseman will not be there. His departure from the narrative splinters this connection.
If not Storm, then who?
Other than another Dora Milaje, or bringing in the Midnight Angels (a duo of former Dora who also a lesbian couple), I think an interesting choice would be Princess Zanda.
Created by Jack Kirby in the late 70s, Princess Zanda is an antagonist to T’Challa and also a potential love interest. She is the ruler of the fictional country of Narobia and also a collector/criminal who is wanted in several countries. She is a firearms expert and is often depicted in conflict with Storm. It would be interesting to see what Wakanda’s relationship with other African nations looks like.
In addition to speculation about existing comics characters, TMZ and a few other sites are promoting the theory that Coel might be coming in to replace Letitia Wright, perhaps playing an older version of Shuri, after Wright’s controversial tweets about COVID-19 vaccines in 2020. At the moment, however, this is just a theory and there aren’t any MCU sources suggesting the same.
It is hard to speculate what choice they will make because of all the MCU upcoming projects, Wakanda Forever carries extra responsibility. Feige said the studio would not be recasting T’Challa and that is, in my opinion, the right call. Shuri taking up the mantel of Black Panther is canon. That also means that characters being introduced into the series do not need to be defined by their relationship to T’Challa in the comics.
Coel could be anyone, and that is exciting.
Who do you think Coel will be playing? Storm? Princess Zanda? Queen Divine Justice? Or someone totally new?
(via Deadline, image: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)
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