[This story contains spoilers for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.]
The final moments of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever delivers on Marvel’s promise to honor the past and look to the future following the loss of actor Chadwick Boseman.
The mid-credits scene picks up after Shuri (Letitia Wright) finally takes time alone to mourn her brother King T’Challa (Boseman), whose death in the film mirrors the late Boseman’s unexpected passing in 2020 from colon cancer. At the start of Wakanda Forever, Shuri is seen burying herself in her work, unable to face her anger and guilt over her brother’s death, while her mother Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) encourages her to find closure. While grappling with her grief, Shuri takes on the mantle of the Black Panther and rises above in a conflict that could have brought destruction to her world. It isn’t until the very end of the movie, in which Shuri concedes the throne to M’Baku (Winston Duke), that the young Wakandan is finally able to take the time to process her grief.
She travels to Haiti, taking up Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) on her earlier offer to go live with her. Earlier in the film, the audience learns that Nakia relocated to Haiti to work as a school teacher — a move prompted by Thanos’ snap in Avengers: Infinity War, in which T’Challa vanished (before being brought back for a short time, after the events of Avengers: Endgame).
In the film’s final scene, Shuri follows her late mother’s advice, performing the Wakandan ritual of burning the funeral attire she wore at T’Challa’s ceremony. What follows is an emotional montage of memories, as Shuri remembers smiling times with her brother — the first time that the film shows old footage of Boseman.
During the mid-credits scene, the audience returns to that very moment. Shuri sits before a beach fire, where she is joined by Nakia and a six-year old boy named Toussaint (Divine Love Konadu-Sun). Nakia introduces the boy as her son, explaining that he is also Shuri’s nephew and T’Challa’s son. In a moment that brings visible emotion to Shuri’s eyes, the boy tells his aunt that his Wakandan name and title is Prince T’Challa, son of King T’Challa. It’s a callback to the original Black Panther film, in which T’Challa himself announces, “I am Prince T’Challa, son of King T’Chaka!” when M’Baku challenges him for the throne.
Shuri then raises the important question of whether or not her late mother knew, to which Nakia assures her that Ramonda did know, and was even able to meet her grandson. Nakia explains to Shuri that she and T’Challa had Toussaint in secret, and ultimately made the decision to raise him with a normal life, away from the pressures of the Wakandan throne. It’s a poignant scene that brings Shuri’s complicated journey to mourn her brother to a close, while also marking a new, hopeful beginning for the hero. While Shuri won’t ever be able to replace T’Challa in her life, she can now continue their familial love and legacy through his son.
With the introduction of a direct heir to T’Challa’s throne, the young prince’s arrival in the MCU implies that he could ultimately become the Black Panther and the King of Wakanda one day. While M’Baku’s current occupation of the throne could complicate matters, Toussaint’s ascent would likely not take place for years, until he is grown.
In the comics, King T’Challa does have a son, known as Azari from the Next Avengers timeline. He exists in a multiverse known as Earth-10943, in which T’Challa and the X-Men’s Storm have a romantic relationship, ultimately bearing a son with both the mutant abilities of his mother and the Black Panther-like qualities of his father. In this alternate timeline, Ultron (the A.I. villain from the second Avengers film) wins, wiping out the Avengers and ruling over Azari’s universe. Thus, the Next Avengers are born, in which Azari and the other children of the late Avengers rise up to defeat Ultron’s regime once and for all.
While Toussaint is clearly not the same character as Azari, it opens up the door for Marvel to potentially merge comics and film storylines for the future of T’Challa’s son. And with the existence of the multiverse, anything remains possible.
After the credits finish rolling in Wakanda Forever, there’s no post-credits scene, but instead, a screen that tells audiences that “Black Panther will return.” While a third Black Panther installment is not yet announced, there’s several existing avenues for Shuri and the Wakandans to return to the MCU. The introduction of Ironheart, or Riri Williams, (Dominique Thorne) in the film opens the door for a potential Black Panther appearance in the Ironheart show next fall. Additionally, the Black Panther previously appeared in films in both the Captain America and Avengers franchises.
For now, audiences are left to think of Boseman’s legacy and imagine what’s to come.