The following contains spoilers for Marvel's Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok.
To the surprise of few, Marvel's debut Black Panther movie has turned out to be a massive success on both a critical and financial level. A sequel is most certainly going to be in the works now if it wasn't already, and it's there where things get interesting. The first film introduced us all to the Afrofuturist nation of Wakanda and dabbled into its politics and culture.
But if there's one area that the film barely scraped the surface of, it's the religion of Wakanda. Sure, there's the Panther Goddess Bast, but she's only one of five Wakandan gods that the eventual sequel can focus on. For his return to the MCU, director Ryan Coogler should shine a light on the other gods of Wakanda -- the Orisha.
Despite having been introduced more than 50 years ago, the Orisha as a whole didn't really see a true expansion into the Black Panther's mythology until fairly recently. "Orisha" in this case refers to the whole pantheon of Wakandan gods -- not just Bast, but also Kokou, the God of War; Ptah the Shaper, provider of alloys such as Vibranium; Mujaji, god of sustenance; and Thoth, god of the moon and wisdom. The Orisha rose to godhood after helping humanity fight off the Originators, who lived in Wakanda before going to war with humanity.
The gods have appeared separately throughout ancillary pieces of Marvel lore, but their big referral as a pantheon came with Ta-Nehisi Coates, Brian Stelfreeze and Chris Sprouse's currently running Black Panther. Right now, the Orisha play a huge part in the adventures of T'Challa's solo comic, having disappeared and replaced by another apparent god known only as Sefako. With the Orisha absent, mystical portals have been popping up all around Wakanda, releasing monsters who themselves are claiming that the Originators have returned.
Admittedly, this is a lot to throw at people. But the basics -- namely, the gods of Wakanda and the story of power through faith -- is perfect for T'Challa's next solo film to focus on. Thor: Ragnarok ended with the Asgardian population orbiting the term "endangered species," their home of Asgard having been effectively destroyed, and it's likely that Thanos won't exactly cut them any slack in Infinity War, either. A new mythology is needed for fans to really sink their teeth into, and Wakanda is rich and powerful enough to give fans that mythology. Now that T'Challa has opened up Wakanda to the world, there will obviously be those who want to learn about Wakandan culture through their gods, much as we do in real life. The MCU has history, sure, but it doesn't have history -- something concrete and definitive in the way that fans likely prefer. The Orisha are a way to give that to the fans while also using it to inform current Wakandan culture.