Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is poised to debut in theaters later this year, bringing a highly-anticipated and emotional new installment of the iconic Marvel franchise. Following the passing of T'Challa star Chadwick Boseman, fans have been curious to see how the narrative of the Marvel Cinematic Universe sequel will focus on other characters. As The Hollywood Reporter revealed on Friday, that might include a larger role for one of the first film's breakout stars. According to their report, which regards the production restart on Wakanda Forever with star Letitia Wright, M'Bakuactor Winston Duke negotiated "a hefty raise" for his return in the film, as a result of getting "an expanded role in the Panther mythos."
While it's unclear exactly what this expanded role will entail, it will surely excite fans who have been hoping to see M'Baku potentially take on the Black Panther mantle, a popular fan theory that has popped up in recent years. And with a Black Panther: Kingdom of Wakanda Disney+ series also in the works, there's also a chance that the larger role could involve M'Baku factoring heavily into that.
"We're just waiting to see where it goes," Duke told The Hollywood Reporter back in 2020. "I've seen nothing, I've heard nothing, I haven't been told a thing. I just trust that they're going to invest in M'Baku and tell a really bold story."
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is also expected to see the return of Lupita Nyong'o as Nakia, Danai Gurira as Okoye, Letitia Wright as Shuri, Angela Bassett as Ramonda, and Martin Freeman as Everett Ross. The film will also feature the debut of Dominique Thorne as Riri Williams/Ironheart, who is later set to star in her own Disney+ series. Michaela Coel and Tenoch Huerta have also been cast in currently-unknown roles.
"So much of the comics and that first movie is the world of Wakanda," Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige explained in 2021."Wakanda is a place to further explore with characters and different subcultures. This was always and initially the primary focus of the next story."
"We're not going to have a CG Chadwick and we're not recasting T'Challa," Feige added. "Ryan Coogler is working very hard right now on the script with all the respect and love and genius that he has, which gives us great solace, so it was always about furthering the mythology and the inspiration of Wakanda. There's also the task of honoring and respecting the ongoing learnings and teachings from Chad as well."
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is currently set to be released exclusively in theaters on November 11th.