Black Panther: Wakanda Forever - SPOILER'S Surprise Cameo Return Explained

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever manages to fit in its fair share of surprise twists, in between its poignant send-off of Chadwick Boseman's T'Challa. MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW: The story of Black Panther 2 sees Princess Shuri (Letitia Wright) having to step up as both a ruler and a superhero, after T'Challa dies of illness, and Queen Ramonda dies in the war with Namor and Talocan. Part of Shuri's story of grieving, loss, and acension is a scene that takes the young princess to one of the darkest places she's ever been – with a dark host waiting there to greet her... 





How Killmonger Returns in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

(Photo: Marvel Studios)

Yes, Michael B. Jordan's Erik Killmonger (aka N'Jadaka) returns in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which is something a lot of fans wanted, even though logistics made it hard since Killmonger is dead. Director Ryan Coogler gets around that small issues by having Killmonger's spirit be the one that shows up after Shuri consumes her synthesized version of the Heart-Shaped Herb that powers Wakanda's Black Panthers. Killmonger is there to council and guide Shuri to becoming a very different sort of Black Panther: one who can get revenge for her dead mother, and take out a force as powerful as Namor. 

Killmonger's Black Panther 2 Cameo Explained

(Photo: Marvel Studios)

There has already been backlash to the decision to have Killmonger appear to Shuri in this key sequence of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Some fans felt it was a break in the logic of the Panther ritual to have an evil presence like Killmonger show up as opposed to a family member like T'Challa or T'Chaka – but it's easy to see the logic established in the film. 

The reason Killmonger's spirit is drawn to Shuri is because where Shuri is, emotionally, when she finally makes the Heart-Shaped Herb and consumes it. Wakanda is staggering from Namor's attack, and Queen Ramonda is dead before Shuri is even done mourning T'Challa. Shuri has been broken down so far that rage is all she has left to drive her. So when Shuri has her vision to see if she is strong enough to become the Black Panther, it's Killmonger who is the kind of spirit she calls out for – whether she knows it or not. 

This moment also isn't as 'out of line' with the logic of MCU Black Panther as some are trying to argue. In Black Panther (2018) T'Challa's vision when re-taking the Heart-Shaped Herb was not a happy one either. T'Challa met his ancestors in order to draw out the spirit of his father T'Chaka, and confront him for all the secrets and lies that created Killmonger, put Wakanda in danger, and ultimately fractured the Royal Family. It was the moment T'Challa rebelled against decades of tradition (and his father) and became a different king and Black Panther who exposed Wakanda to the world for the first time.

(Photo: Marvel Studios)

The point is: T'Challa's vision forced hims to wrestle with dark feelings and face a spirit (his father) that had left his heart conflicted. Shuri did much the same: her dark feelings brought a spirit (Killmonger) that forced her to confront her own internal conflict and make a choice about who she will be. It also wasn't a random meeting: Erik Killmonger is Shuri's cousin and a member of the Royal Family, who took on the power of a Black Panther. Killmonger may have cheated his way there, but as a Royal who consumed the herb, his spirit is now as much a part of the Panther ritual as T'Chaka's or T'Challa's. It all fits. 

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is now in theaters.