It’s safe to say that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will be an emotional watch. The follow-up to Marvel’s massively successful, most critically acclaimed movie of all time has been five years in the making. In that time, it was hit with an unprecedented setback: leading man Chadwick Boseman, aka Prince T’Challa (Black Panther) himself, died of cancer in 2020. Production on the sequel had not yet begun.
Losing your star is never easy, especially when they have a role deeply entrenched in the biggest cinematic franchise ever. But director Ryan Coogler appears to have harnessed that deep sadness to create something cathartic, not just mournful. The film’s latest trailer, released Monday, is a powerful preview of how he’ll fill the Boseman-sized hole. Wakanda Forever is a movie centered on the women of Wakanda—T’Challa’s beloved family, who take up the mantle in his stead.
It’s emotional from the get-go, as T’Challa’s iconic mask is carried out in a funeral procession. A mural of his face now stands tall in Wakanda; the nation is dressed in white as a mark of their grief.
But then it’s quickly back to business for Queen Mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett, real-life queen), her daughter Shuri (Letitia Wright), and Okoye (Danai Gurira). With T’Challa’s passing comes an opportunity for the villainous Namor, leader of the underwater civilization Talocan, to strike. “Only the most broken people can be great leaders,” he says in voiceover. And while he’s talking about himself, it’s clear to us that the same applies for Wakanda’s remaining royals.
The Wakandans set off to fight the invading Talocan in order to preserve their utopic kingdom. “We know you whisper, ‘They have lost their protector,’” Ramonda says. But she quickly reminds her people: “Now is our time to strike. Show them who we are.”
Cut to lots of hand-to-hand combat, car chases, high-tech weaponry, and even two new heroes: Shuri in the Black Panther suit and Ironheart, aka Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne), who comic book fans know as a female successor to Iron Man. This will be her debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
No matter where Wakanda Forever leaves the franchise, it’s clear that it has strong characters at the helm—a group of incredibly inspiring female warriors. While that can’t undo the pain of losing Boseman, it reminds us that there’s still hope for the future.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever opens in theaters on Nov. 11.