The Marvel Cinematic Universe has grown quite a bit since we last visited Wakanda. We’ve met new comic characters in film form, like Shang-Chi, The Eternals and Ms. Marvel, as well as Oscar Isaac’s Moon Knight. Thor, Tom Holland’s Peter Parker and Doctor Strange have all received at least second if not third (or in Thor’s case fourth) installments within their respective hero’s journeys. But of course, the worst news involves the passing of Chadwick Boseman, who portrayed Prince and then King T’Challa in “Black Panther” (2018).
Boseman’s character has not been recast, and the legacy he left behind serves as its own presence in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” The world of Wakanda has been slowly introduced over the last few years in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so it might be helpful to brush up on who has crossed the borders of the hidden nation, whether it be for vibranium or getting an Infinity Stone out of someone’s skull.
Here are the MCU movies and shows to watch before “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Wakanda plays a large role in the clash of major superheroes because it is the source of vibranium, an indestructible metal that landed on earth as meteors. Vibranium makes its first appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in “Captain America: The First Avenger” when Captain America, aka Steve Rogers, wields his shield. In “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” Wakanda’s importance in the metal trade, as well as the metals characteristics, were introduced and explained in more detail. The film’s villain, Ultron, seeks out the precious metal to carry out his apocalyptic plan, and this brings about the creation of Vision (Paul Bettany) by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) to write the wrongs of their first attempted AI creation, Ultron. Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) also makes his debut into the MCU in this film, but his involvement doesn’t get fleshed out until later.
“Age of Ultron” is an optional watch for “Wakanda Forever” prep, but for completionists it’s recommended.
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
This is the first time Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther makes an onscreen appearance in the MCU.
Captain America’s third film sees most of the Avengers roster of the time meet the Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) as well as Dora Milaje warrior Ayo (Florence Kasumba) and CIA agent Everett Ross (Martin Freeman). King T’Challa gets involved mainly through the tragic and untimely death of his father King T’Chaka, who died in a bomb blast detonated by radical Sokovian Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl). This meeting aimed to ratify the Sokovia Accords, which promised to regulate all enhanced persons. Zemo framed the Winter Soldier for the bomb, which creates cracks in the Avengers’ unity. T’Chaka had already passed down the mantle of Black Panther to his son since he wanted to be more involved in politics, thus he was in Vienna, Austria for that fateful meeting. The king’s murder left T’Challa with the throne as well as responsibilities leading an entire nation. His need for vengeance makes him a major player in “Civil War,” which pits Captain America against Iron Man and their respective teams of heroes.
Black Panther (2018)
Of course, “Black Panther” is essential viewing for the story, but it’s also one of the best Marvel movies ever made.
T’Challa’s (Chadwick Boseman’s) feature film arrived in February of 2016. The story starts with King T’Chaka telling his son the story of their kingdom of Wakanda’s history. What T’Chaka doesn’t tell his son is that his brother, Prince N’Jobu, took a position as a spy in America, where he adopted radicalized views that Wakanda should lend all of its resources — including the precious metal vibranium — to their people across the globe. T’Chaka visited his brother to confront him about helping Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) steal vibranium from various locations outside the hidden nation. T’Chaka ended up killing his own brother, leaving his nephew (Michael B. Jordan) and cousin to T’Challa to fend for himself in Oakland California.
Jordan’s character becomes a war dog, known as Killmonger, and he kills Klaue before approaching T’Challa to challenge him for the throne. T’Challa has to reconcile his father’s past with his long lost cousin suddenly appearing out of nowhere. T’Challa’s family history factors into “Wakanda Forever,” even though his character has been laid to rest.
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
“Avengers: Infinity War” involves Captain America seeking help from Wakanda, specifically Princess Shuri (Letitia Wright), to remove the Infinity Stone in the center of Vision’s forehead. Wanda Maximoff, whose own path intersects at times with the Black Panther’s, is supposed to then destroy the stone. Before she can do so, Thanos (Josh Brolin) arrives in search of the stone to complete his gauntlet. A major battle for the stones take place on Wakanda, as does the Blip brought about by the snap of Thanos’ complete Infinity Gauntlet. King T’Challa is among the half of the population that vanishes.
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Upon reversal of the Blip, T’Challa returns in the final battle against Thanos, contributing to the epic “Avengers, assemble!” scene that sees all of the heroes crossover and unite to fight Thanos. There is also a big line that went under the radar — or maybe under the water, literally — about underwater earthquakes that gets lost in all of the other events of “Endgame.” This line teases the existence of Namor’s submarine kingdom Talokan, a major factor in “Wakanda Forever.”
“The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” (2021)
The Disney+ series “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” has more connective tissue to the “Black Panther” franchise than you might think.
Ayo leads the Dora Milaje in the capture of Zemo, who Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) initially released to help them counter terrorism acts of a group called the Flag Smashers. The Wakandans aid Bucky in overcoming his Hydra brainwashing. In tandem with Ayo’s aid in reversing the programmed hypnosis that sends Bucky into destroyer mode when he hears a certain string of words, Bucky receives a vibranium suit similar to Captain America’s, which was hinted at in one of the Black Panther post-credit senes involving Shuri examining Bucky’s arm. Julia Louis-Dreyfus also sets the tone for her future involvement with Wakanda, as she also does in the “Black Widow” post-credit scene.
BONUS: Black Widow (2021)
We’ll keep it spoiler-free here but suffice it to say, you might want to check out the post-credits scene to 2021’s “Black Widow” before watching “Wakanda Forever.”
BONUS: What If… T’Challa Became a Starlord? and What If… Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark? (2021)
T’Challah and Killmonger get their own alternate reality stories in the animated “What If…?” series, and Wakandan characters in general appear in other episodes as well. Chadwick Boseman received a posthumous Emmy for voicing the cartoon version of his MCU character. His death made the parallel reality story even more meaningful.
While these episodes don’t have any canonical effect on “Wakanda Forever,” they offer fun alternate scenarios and further expand the world of these characters.
In “What If…T’Challa Became a Starlord?” T’Challa gets kidnapped and raised by Yondu instead of Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill. In ‘What If…Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark?” Michael B. Jordan’s animated likeness eliminates the possibility of Tony Stark becoming Iron Man. Stark then promotes Eric Stevens to chief security officer of Stark Industries instead of Happy (Jon Favreau). Stevens entices Stark with the idea of eliminating human soldiers in combat, so Tony decides to help him develop Project Liberator. Tony then enlists blackmarket arms dealer Klaue to contribute more vibranium to the project. T’Challa tries to defend the precious metal and Stevens takes his suit in the process.