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Why Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Shouldn't Confirm Its New Hero Until Opening Weekend

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever T'Challa Chadwick Boseman mural
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a big deal for Marvel, and if the astronomical viewership numbers of the trailer are any indication, this sequel might rival the box-office-breaking original Black Panther. San Diego Comic-Con unveiled some new details about the upcoming Marvel movie, but we still don’t officially know who will take over the mantle of the hero following actor Chadwick Boseman’s passing. Personally, I’m of the opinion we shouldn’t find out who will take his place until opening weekend, and would love to see that happen. 

We’re just months away from the release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and if Marvel Studios isn’t going to release the name of the actor playing the new Black Panther, I’m all about it. Here are some of the reasons why, as well as why I think other fans should be excited to see this happen provided we don’t hear about it ahead of the movie's arrival in theaters.

Black Panther Wakanda Forever image

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

It’s So Hard For Audiences To Be Surprised Anymore 

We live in an age where phones make it hard for anything to stay a secret. If we’re not reading some snobby journalist's takes on pop culture (thanks, by the way), we’re looking at spoilers about major beats in upcoming movies. In fact, fans are so insistent on spoilers that we have events like San Diego Comic-Con where creatives show up and reveal some of the big things happening in their movies in advance. Obviously, they aren’t there just listing off every little thing that happens, but it’s hard to remember a time when people just showed up to a sequel with little idea of what to expect. 

Marvel doesn’t and sometimes can’t prevent a lot of its secrets from getting out, so I definitely appreciate it that much more when something does manage to slip by unnoticed. Take, for example, when Star Wars managed to prevent it from leaking that Luke Skywalker was in The Mandalorian Season 2. That was a truly mind-blowing moment that set the internet on fire because it was that big, and practically no one saw it happening (although I had argued for why The Mandalorian needed to include Luke Skywalker). 

I’m not saying the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s actor reveal will measure on that same level of hype, but I think it is certainly something to be excited for. Hell, I’m already thrilled just from the possibility of going into the movie without knowing with 100% certainty who’s going to be in the role. I can’t say learning ahead of time will ruin the fun, but it will kill a bit of that excitement I’ve desperately missed. 

Winston Duke in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

The Speculation Only Heightens The Already High Anticipation For The Movie

We’re less than a week removed from San Diego Comic-Con, and I’ve already seen so many articles with speculation about who is playing the new Black Panther. Clearly there are people out there who want to know, and the theories that are floating around about who it could be is just so fun to read and debate. Debate and theorizing are like 90% of the pop culture experience, and it’s just not something we’d get just knowing the answer. 

Think back to Captain America: Civil War and all the speculation that happened when we learned Spider-Man would appear. Ultimately we didn’t know a ton about what would happen, and we didn’t have much more to go on for a long time beyond a shot of him grabbing Captain America’s shield. I remember thinking that was because he wouldn’t be involved much more than that one scene, but then we got a whole fight scene. My speculation played to my benefit there, so I’m glad I didn’t overestimate Tom Holland’s involvement in the movie. 

And to be quite honest, if fans really want to know who is playing the hero in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, there are theories out there. Some of those theories sound much more likely than others, and there are some ideas that sound a little far-fetched. It’s completely fine though, because every idea, whether it’s better or worse than what happens, adds to the anticipation and gets folks excited to see if their guess was right or wrong. 

Tenoch Huerta as Namor the Sub-Mariner in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Fans Can Wait Until They See The New Black Panther To Judge The Decision

Perhaps the greatest benefit of holding Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s casting a secret is that it prevents the general public from writing off the actor or actress before officially seeing them in the role. That’s a rare opportunity that we as fans don’t often get to do, and try as we might withhold expectations or judgment on a casting, the takes always come out anyway. 

Think of how divisive the discourse was about Robert Pattinson playing Batman and how polarizing that decision was. Ultimately The Batman came and went with critical acclaim, and unless you’re someone still pushing for the SnyderVerse to be restored (which doesn’t seem likely), people are largely on board with Battinson. I can’t help but wonder, though: would the reaction have been so divisive had no one known it was him until after seeing the movie? I’m inclined to say no, but of course we don’t have any way of knowing for sure. 

The closest thing we have, lo and behold, is Black Panther: Wakanda Forever holding the identity secret of its Black Panther for the time being. As I mentioned, the people who desperately want to know their identity will be able to figure out who it is, but for those only casually interested, this will be awesome to observe. Many, assuming the secret is saved, will go into the movie without knowing and then see the actor in action as Black Panther not long after. I can’t think of a purer way to get the true reaction to a character in a role, and the greatest opportunity for any naysayers who might write someone off before seeing them to give it a fair chance. 

I’m painting a great picture that makes the identity of the next Black Panther a secret worth keeping until opening day, but the reality is we could learn that secret any time between now and November. Hopefully though, we have to wait on this reveal, and maybe we’ll all get a chance to experience a big surprise together. 

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is in theaters beginning on Friday, November 11th. Prepare for the upcoming release until then by binge-watching the awesome trailer dozens of times, and reading up on our other thoughts about what’s ahead for the MCU in Phase 5 and 6

Mick Joest
Mick Joest

Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.