The Black Panther film is nearing its February 16th release, and fans who have been waiting for this movie for what seems like a lifetime are at a new level of hyped. Some fans have in fact been waiting for a lifetime, as Black Panther made his comics debut in 1966 in Fantastic Four #52. The rise of Black Panther coincided with civil unrest in the 60s and 70s, and the story of T’Challa continues to fascinate its audience. He’s a superhero and a king, which creates a lot of interesting tension in his different iterations.
Black Panther precedes Avengers: Infinity War, which will bring together the entire band of MCU heroes to battle Thanos. Black Panther is a pivotal film because of its mostly black cast and crew, and the events of Black Panther and Infinity War are likely to have huge consequences in the MCU. As always, the speculation has ramped up for what will happen in Black Panther and how it will affect the rest of Marvel’s phase 3 and phase 4. Here at CBR, we have done a deep dive into fan theories for Black Panther, and we’ve rounded up ones we hope are real and ones we hope are not.
15 HOPE IT’S REAL: THE SOUL STONE ISN’T IN WAKANDA
The Soul Stone is the last Infinity Stone that needs to be revealed. The Infinity Stones collected together will have galactic consequences since they have the power to destroy worlds. We know that the premise of Infinity War stems from the The Infinity Gauntlet comic series where superheroes laid their lives on the line to fight Thanos, who possessed all of the gems.
Here’s the thing: we don’t need another Infinity Stone to be found on Earth.
It’s a little too convenient that so many of these artifacts that have extraordinary powers are found on our planet. Also, Black Panther will probably have enough going on, plot-wise, to throw an Infinity Stone in the mix. An Infinity Stone reveal would take away precious time from exploring these new characters.
14 HOPE IT’S NOT: SOUL STONE IN THE VIBRANIUM MOUND
Fans are divided as far as if they think the Soul Stone will be found in Black Panther or Infinity War. According to the comics, part of the the Soul Gem’s power is that can attack or collect souls, as well as allow the bearer to access the soul world. Thanos uses this particular gem to his advantage in The Infinity Gauntlet comics when he trapped some of our heroes in there.
The vibranium mound is in Wakanda because it crashed there from space. Some fans have connected that if we’re going celestial, it would be easy to double up and put the Soul Stone in the vibranium mound. This would create a lot of panic in the Wakandans since the vibranium is their most precious resource, and the Soul Stone being in the mound would probably result in its destruction. We hope this isn’t the case.
13 HOPE IT’S REAL: THANOS COMES FOR THE MIND STONE
Real footage has shown us that Thanos comes to Wakanda. If it’s not for the Soul Stone (which we hope is not the case), it could be because the Mind Stone is there. At this point, you’re probably like “Hold up. Isn’t the Mind Stone currently residing in Vision’s forehead?” and you’re right. This theory would mean that Vision comes to Wakanda first.
If Vision’s desire is to remove the mind stone from his person, it makes sense that he would consult Wakanda about it. Yes, he has Tony Stark at his disposal, but it’s already been confirmed that Shuri is the smartest person in the MCU. Therefore, we’re hoping that Shuri consults with Vision and helps him remove it. And if Thanos is anything, he’s a completionist, so he would go to Wakanda for the Mind Stone ASAP.
12 HOPE IT’S NOT: BUCKY IS NOT IN THE FILM
Fans are also discussing when Bucky Barnes will reappear. Bucky was last seen at the end of Captain America: Civil War where T’Challa grants him and Steve Rogers asylum. Bucky is also seen in the Infinity War trailers. However, the last we saw of him, he was going through elective cryostasis to guarantee his brainwashing was gone. So, at some point, Bucky needs to be thawed out.
The reemergence of Bucky Barnes would make a great mid-credits or post-credits scene for Black Panther.
It’s a reveal that doesn’t need to take up a lot of time, and it would allow for the events of Infinity War to start even more quickly. Before the heroes go fight Thanos, they have to be assembled, and Bucky on ice is something that should be addressed in Black Panther.
11 HOPE IT’S REAL: T’CHALLA WINS THE THRONE
The Black Panther of Wakanda is seen as a deity and king in the eyes of Wakandans. Heredity is a significant factor in becoming Black Panther, but there is one more factor involved. Though the lineage of previous Black Panthers has created strong warriors, to be the Black Panther, you have to prove your worthiness by a trial by combat.
In the trailers, we see that Killmonger has a Black Panther suit. Fans who have read the comics have pointed out that this could mean that Killmonger, at some point, takes the Black Panther mantle. The Christopher Priest run had Killmonger killing T’Challa (don’t worry, he comes back) and taking the Black Panther title. This would be a very interesting story to explore, as it would force the Dora Milaje (the warrior women protectors of the king) to change their allegiances as well.
10 HOPE IT’S NOT: THE SOUL STONE ACCOUNTS FOR PANTHER VISIONS
Black Panther is said to be an afrofuturistic film. Afrofuturism is a movement that combines African culture and history with science fiction and fantasy. We can see this already with the Black Panther comics. Reginald Hudlin introduced this concept well in his run with Wakanda never being conquered because they’ve always had superior technology. Technology is a vital part of Wakandan culture.
Part of being the Black Panther is having Panther Visions, where the current Black Panther can commune with previous Black Panthers. This is a ritual that’s part of Wakandan culture. Some fans have posited that the reason why Black Panthers can have these visions is because the Soul Stone is the vibranium mound. We hope that this isn’t true. Though the Soul Stone would give the film an extra boost of scifi, it would undercut the importance of this ritual to Wakandans.
9 HOPE IT’S REAL: T’CHALLA KICKS BUTT WITHOUT HIS SUIT
In the comics, the Black Panther suit has been ripped to shreds in a fight, depending on the run. However, the Black Panther suit is probably the most powerful suit to date in the MCU. It makes its wearer indestructible because of the vibranium, which absorbs energy. It’s also got claws, and it can fold up into a necklace, which we haven’t seen before.
Fans have said that they’d like to see T’Challa get down and dirty in a fight without his suit.
All Black Panthers must have superior fighting skills to win the mantle of Black Panther. We’ve seen these skills Black Panther’s appearances in the MCU so far. What we haven’t seen is T’Challa stay in a fight without relying on his suit. Training footage suggests that Chadwick Boseman did learn fight moves, and fans would love to see this.
8 HOPE IT’S NOT: KILLMONGER IS KLAUE’S PUPPET
Ulysses Klaue/Klaw is a longtime adversary of T’Challa in the comics. He is responsible for murdering T’Chaka, T’Challa’s father. T’Challa is always out for revenge against him. Erik Killmonger, born N’Jadaka, was abducted by Klaw as a child after Klaw killed T’Chaka. We don’t know much about his childhood, but Killmonger has nursed a grudge against T’Chaka and T’Challa for a long time.
Fans have pointed out that it would make sense if Klaue is holding the strings, especially if he has brainwashed Killmonger since he was a kid. However, we hope this isn’t the case. We’re not comfortable with a white character abducting a black child and then using him as an adult. We want Killmonger to be a complex villain with his own agency.
7 HOPE IT’S REAL: T’CHALLA IS THE MCU’S JAMES BOND
We’ve been hearing rumblings from the Black Panther crew and fans that T’Challa is set to be the MCU’s James Bond. As the king, he’s already surrounded by the beautiful women of the Dora Milaje, so he’s already got that down. And this would mean he’s the one with the gadgets and goes on covert missions to protect his country. This totally works given Wakanda’s advanced second-to-none technology and T’Challa’s abilities.
Where there’s a James Bond, there’s a Q, and we hope that Wakanda’s Q is Shuri.
Q is in charge of giving and explaining tech to 007. We already know that Shuri created Black Panther’s suit, so we’re dying to know what else she’s got up her sleeves. The James Bond/Q dynamic in the royal family would be so enjoyable to watch, and we hope to see this come February 16th.
6 HOPE IT’S NOT: THAT THE VILLAIN IS NOT JUST A DARK VERSION
The MCU has some storytelling patterns. One of these patterns is characters having fraught relationships with their fathers (see Thor, Peter Quill, and Gamora and Nebula). Another pattern is having the villain be a darker version of the hero, and fans have noticed that Black Panther could easily fall into this pattern.
With the first Iron Man film, Tony had to literally fight a villain who used his technology to build a suit. Loki is kind of the Thor franchise’s go to villain, and he’s also a darker version of Thor: he’s an Asgardian, and they were raised as brothers. We’re hoping that to make an impact with the originality of the Black Panther film that Killmonger doesn’t spend a bunch of screen time in the Black Panther suit we see him wear in the trailer. We’d rather have that time used for character development.
5 HOPE IT’S REAL: KILLMONGER IS T’CHALLA’S HALF BROTHER
Here’s a theory that most of us haven’t considered. The relationship between T’Challa and Killmonger is already tense because of Killmonger’s grudge against his family. If it were revealed that Killmonger and T’Challa were half-brothers, comic book fans’ jaws would hit the floor.
This theory was put forward by @ParkerFromSBM on Twitter where he compared the lyrics to “King’s Dead” from the Black Panther soundtrack to Killmonger’s character description. This would make the film deviate from the comics: Killmonger wasn’t taken as a child from Wakanda but instead was a lovechild from when T’Chaka visited America. This would still account for Killmonger’s hate for the royal family, and it would do away with the whole “Klaw abducted him as a child” thing from the comics.
4 HOPE IT’S NOT: FILM WON’T DO WELL OVERSEAS
By all presale indications, Black Panther is set to have a very successful opening weekend in the United States. As it stands, it has surpassed advance sales for every other superhero movie released thus far. However, some fans are worried that Black Panther won’t have as big of an impact overseas, particularly Asia, where Marvel films in general haven’t been as successful.
More specifically, some fans have stated that in more “homogenous” countries, like the Asian ones, it will be difficult for them to connect with a film with a nearly all black cast like Black Panther. We certainly hope this is not the case. This is making a lot of blanket assumptions about different Asian cultures and their reactions to seeing diversity being represented on-screen.
3 HOPE IT’S REAL: SHURI IS THE MVP
Valkyrie was the surprise breakout star of Thor: Ragnarok, and Tessa Thompson is now adored by all MCU fans. If this pattern continues into Black Panther, our eyes are on Letitia Wright’s character as T’Challa’s sister, Shuri. In the different clips that Marvel has released so far, such as the one where Chadwick Boseman and Wright are breaking down what makes Black Panther’s suit special, Letitia Wright is charismatic and engaging.
If Letitia Wright brings this magnetism to her portrayal of Shuri, we may be looking at another fan favorite character.
Also, since it’s been released that she’s the smartest person in the MCU, her character is likely to affect a lot of what happens in the story. We’re also hoping we’ll see her gauntlets in action in numerous fight scenes as well.
2 HOPE IT’S NOT: TONY GETS WAKANDAN TECH
Wakandans do not export. This has been made abundantly clear in the trailer where Klaw explains to Everett Ross, a government official, that everyone thinks Wakanda’s a third world country, but it’s not. Vibranium is a powerful resource, and if other countries get their hands on it, they would want more and try to invade (keyword: try).
Some vibranium has already made its way out with Captain America’s shield, but he uses his shield strictly for fighting bad guys. Fans have speculated that Tony Stark would love to get his hands on Wakandan technology, especially with the Bleeding Edge armor being hinted at in the Infinity War trailer. We hope that Tony figures out the required nanotechnology on his own because him getting the tech from Wakanda could read like he’s exploiting them.
1 HOPE IT’S REAL: A NEW TRINITY
As MCU fans, we know the countdown has begun for our original trinity: Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America. The Chrises have maintained an extraordinary physique for so long now, and RDJ finished his trilogy years ago. Those who have read Infinity Gauntlet know that there are a lot of casualties, and this will give the MCU a chance to reboot their trinity as they head into phase 4.
Fans have rallied around the idea of Doctor Strange, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel as the new trinity.
Filming has begun for Captain Marvel, and fans are already stoked to see Carol Danvers in action. What’s great about the Black Panther mantle is that it is passed down, so even if Chadwick Boseman decides he’s had enough, Letitia Wright’s Shuri could be Black Panther. This happens in the comics, and it could be an easy way to continue this franchise.