T'Challa's death explained, a new Black Panther crowned and an emotional, mid-credits reveal that changes everything.
Following the real-life death of Chadwick Boseman,"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" was always going to be an emotionally heavy film. And director Ryan Coogler definitely delivered, giving fans a movie that honors who came before while laying the groundwork for what's to come.
In case the headline wasn't warning enough, we're about to dive headfirst into spoiler territory here -- so if you haven't seen the film and want to go in knowing as little as possible, turn around now!
You've been warned. Let's break down the biggest reveals of the film.
The movie wastes no time explaining Boseman's absence, opening with a heartbreaking scene in which Shuri (Letitia Wright) tries in vain to recreate the Heart-Shaped Herb to heal her brother T'Challa from an unknown illness.
He succumbs to his mystery ailment off-screen and a funeral celebration follows.
Where do Namor and Ironheart fit in?
With their protector gone, the powers that be around the world try to pressure Wakanda into sharing Vibranium and, when those talks prove unsuccessful, try to find it elsewhere. That's where Namor (Tenoch Huerta) enters the picture, as the sea-dwelling people of Talocan have their own stash they too would like to keep hidden from the surface. He poses an alliance between the two territories, but his methods don't vibe with those of Wakanda.
His people have no problem with killing and are on the hunt for Harvard University student Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne), whose tech was used by the government to track Vibranium. Namor wants her dead, while Shuri and Okoye (Danai Gurira) believe she's not a threat and can protect her. Despite their best efforts (and Riri's Ironheart suit), they're still bested by Namor and both Riri and Shuri are taken hostage.
While Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o) is able to rescue them, she also kills one of Namor's warriors in the process ... which he doesn't take lightly.
Namor takes his revenge on Wakanda by unleashing his army and a brutal flood onto the land. While Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett, excellent in this) and Riri try to find safety in the throne room, he breaks the glass and they're both submerged. With her last breaths, Ramonda rescues an unconscious Riri.
With that, all of Shuri's family members are dead.
Who Is the New Black Panther?
Working with Riri, Shuri is able to reproduce the Heart-Shaped Herb and drinks it herself. As she visits the Ancestral Plane, she's greeted by a surprising face -- Michael B. Jordan's Killmonger, who says she, like him, is also fueled by revenge.
She obtains the powers of the Black Panther and sets off to fight Namor once and for all. While their two armies fight it out on the sea, she lures him to the desert -- where he's weakened by the dry air -- and bests him in a battle royale. Instead of taking the kill shot, she proves she's nothing like Killmonger and instead follows in her mother and brother's footsteps by choosing mercy and diplomacy.
What's Namor really up to?
Instead of killing Namor, Shuri allows him to live. In exchange for his life, he agrees to halt plans to wage war against the surface people. Both armies retreat to their respective homes following a peace treaty ... one he doesn't plan on honoring.
It becomes clear Namor's playing the long game, telling Namora (Mabel Cadena) he believes one day the surface people will wage their own war against Wakanda ... and when that happens, they'll finally have the upper hand.
There's no post-credits scene, but there is one very important scene midway through after Rihanna's "Lift Me Up" plays over the cast names. In it, Shuri travels to visit Nakia in Haiti and is met with a beautiful surprise.
It's revealed that, before his death, T'Challa and Nakia had a son, but made a decision to keep him a secret so he could grow up away from Wakanda and the pressure of the throne. Nakia says Queen Ramonda knew of his existence before her death too and agreed to the ruse.
And if you weren't crying already, the movie ends with one final reveal: While the boy goes by Toussaint in Haiti, he tells Shuri, "My name is Prince T'Challa — son of King T'Challa."
So, while we have a new Black Panther in Shuri now, there's also the possibility that in the future, fans could also have another Black Panther named T'Challa without technically recasting Boseman's role.
"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" is in theaters now.