Just Make Nakia The Next Black Panther Already
Back in August, things took a left turn for Letitia Wright when she suffered an on-set injury serious enough to shut down the production of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, so the actress portraying T'Challa's sister Shuri could travel back home to London to recuperate. She's due back on the Atlanta set in early 2022, but there's a real chance that she won't be let into the country since, during her time in the UK, she might have remembered how better-tasting British chocolate is than the American variety and might end up telling someone about it. There'd be riots in the streets if Americans knew that their "chocolate" tastes like stale chalk dipped in Crisco compared to what the Europeans have access to.
There's also the fact that Wright is unvaccinated, which violates current US travel restrictions. So either she gets the jab (and based on her past comments, that's probably not happening anytime soon), or the entire shoot moves somewhere else because way too much time and resources have gone to filming the scenes that didn't require Wright. This leads us to the question: are bats like angels to rats? It also leads us to a more relevant question: Why the hell didn't the sequel just make Lupita Nyong'o's Nakia the new Black Panther?
We still don't know the plot details of Wakanda Forever except that it will finally conclude the Forever Trilogy, hopefully explaining why Diamonds Are Forever and Batman Forever had such widely divergent stories. But given that director Ryan Coogler keeps referring to Wright as the movie's star, it sure does seem like Shuri's scheduled to pick up her brother's mantle in the wake of Chadwick Boseman's passing. And, you know, fine. Shuri obviously has experience with combat but is more of a tinkerer, so her take on Black Panther could possibly include an Iron Man-esque power suit. It'd be cool and could work … if not for the fact that Marvel is already making that series without Shuri. Also, it just would have made so much more sense for Nakia to be the next Blap (as nobody calls Black Panther for short.)
Now, if you have trouble remembering Nakia … then you might be a Marvel executive since the character was weirdly missing from both Infinity War and Endgame. She was apparently busy on spy missions, which she couldn't reschedule for something so trivial as an all-out war against Earth with half the life in the known universe on the line. Anyway, in the first Black Panther movie, she was introduced as a War Dog, a covert Wakandan operative who just spent two years infiltrating a Nigerian human trafficking ring.
She's also T'Challa's greatest love and a staunch proponent of Wakanda ending its isolationist policy and helping the world, being the middle ground between the traditionalist views of T'Challa and the extremist position of Killmonger. This was established beautifully within the first few minutes of her introduction after she stopped Blap from killing a soldier, noting that he was just a young boy forced to pick up a gun.
This scene instantly told us that Nakia was caring, badass and that she saw the complex realities of life and reacted to them with humanity. By the end of the movie, that's also the stance that T'Challa adopts, clearly taking a lesson from Nakia. We know this because, in movies, every scene is planned out, and no shot is accidental. It's also why, when T'Challa gets ready to tell the world the truth about Wakanda, Nakia is right there by his side because she was the one primarily responsible for the character's growth.
Making her the next Black Panther would not only stop Wright from making Marvel execs wake up each morning sighing, but it would also make so much sense thematically. Nakia has already exhibited what Black Panther should be. Her putting on the costume would really be a formality at this point. But, as I said, that's not going to happen, even though Disney could scrap everything they shot so far, change to focus to Nakia, build the new sets out of literal money, and still be Wakanda-level rich.
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Top Image: Marvel Studios