The Marvel Cinematic Universe is rapidly expanding all around us. After WandaVision’s impressive debut on the service back in January, Marvel Studios continues to move full speed ahead on developing new Disney+ shows using its impressive line of franchises. The latest property to make the jump to the small screen is Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther franchise.
The news recently broke that Coogler and Disney signed a five-year deal with Coogler’s production company Proximity Media to produce multiple shows for Disney+ using properties from across the Disney portfolio. The first of these shows will be a highly anticipated drama series based in the Kingdom of Wakanda for Marvel Studios.
Marvel Studios is not slowing down its expansion into TV.
Now, naturally, the next question that every MCU fan has on their minds right now is what the show is about. The only information so far is that it is a drama based in the fictional country of Wakanda. This is a pretty broad generalization that could point to many different characters or plots that we will breakdown right here.
The announcement also hinted that Coogler could develop more than one Marvel show set in the Black Panther franchise, so even if one of these concepts is not used at first, Kevin Feige and Ryan Coogler could always circle back and develop a different idea. (Kevin Feige or Ryan Coogler, if you’re reading this, I will accept any development job no questions asked.)
Coogler is currently working on developing Black Panther 2, which had to be retooled after the tragic passing of Chadwick Boseman. These ideas were developed with Boseman’s absence in mind and are intended to move the franchise forward without dishonoring Boseman’s legacy in the franchise.
Here are our Top 5 ideas for Ryan Coogler’s Wakanda based show for Disney+:
The Dora Milaje
It’s safe to say that when a Wakanda based television series was first announced, most people’s attention turned towards the Dora Milage. The all-women led King’s guard is one of the most popular parts of the Black Panther comics and one of the most intriguing parts of the original Black Panther film. A Dora Milaje TV show would provide the time to properly explore the origins and dynamics of the legendary order of female warriors.
The obvious and best choice to lead this show is Danai Gurira’s Okoye, who broke out as one of the most popular characters in the MCU after her showstopping debut in 2017’s Black Panther. Gurira famously stars in The Walking Dead, another major franchise TV show, so she is no stranger to the television format. A Disney+ upgrade would be perfectly fitting for leader of the Dora Milaje and her quest to defend Wakanda at all costs.
This show would also provide the perfect medium to expand Marvel’s quest for representation by giving meaningful development to a Lesbian character that was sidelined in the first film. Florence Kasumba’s Ayo, who first showed up in a short but potent moment in Captain America: Civil War, is a canonically gay character in the comics. The movie series may not have the time to explore these side characters, but a Disney+ show would be the perfect place to give her the spotlight fans have been demanding for years.
Prequel with a past Black Panther (think Avatar: The Last Airbender)
One of the more unexplored segments of the MCU is the history of the Black Panther mantle over time. The comics dive deeply into the lore of the Black Panther that spans generations of warrior kings, but the movies have only scratched the surface so far. There are probably hundreds of past Black Panther’s that we do not know yet, so a show focused on one of those characters would provide a blank slate for Coogler to expand the lore however he sees fit.
The inspiration for a show like this could come from the incredible lore set up by Avatar: The Last Airbender, where the Avatar mantle is passed down from generation to generation with all of their souls linked for eternity. 2017’s Black Panther set up a similar dynamic with the ancestral plane. Exploring that original and the meaning behind the Black Panther mantle would be a perfect fit for a Disney+ show.
T’Chaka / N’Jobu Prequel
The opening scene of 2017’s Black Panther showcased an interesting dynamic between T’Challa’s father T’Chaka and his brother N’Jobu, Killmonger’s father. The two brothers separated to experience life on different sides of the world – T’Chaka as King of Wakanda and N’Jobu as a Wakandan spy placed in America. N’Jobu’s experience outside of Wakanda radicalized him in 1990’s Oakland presumably in the climate around the time of the Rhodney King riots in 1992.
T’Chaka kills N’Jobu yet still ignores the worlds racial equity issues that he has the power to fix (or at least help tremendously). Coogler’s skillful set up of two opposite ends of the morality spectrum in terms of doing too much vs. doing nothing is a dynamic that extends into the bulk of the Black Panther film. A television show exploring the origins of these character’s way of thinking is right up Ryan Coogler’s alley.
Coogler’s ability to balance a political story with realism and relevance is a perfect match with a long form television series that explores two similar people with two different life experiences. Sterling K. Brown’s N’Jobu would return to lead as well as Atandwa Kani as young T’Chaka (Fun Fact: Kani is the real-life son of older T’Chaka actor John Kani.)
Storm Origin Story
Ok, I understand this is a long shot. Still, the idea of having a Storm origin story set in Wakanda on Disney+ is too good to ignore. Ever since Disney’s acquisition of Fox, fans have been begging for a true MCU version of the famous X-Men. Marvel is already attempting to crossover the two universes by (WandaVision Spoiler Alert) bringing back Evan Peter’s to play a tricky version of Quicksilver in WandaVision, so the rest of the mutants cannot be too far off.
In the comics, Ororo Monroe (AKA Storm) was raised in Cairo, Egypt and New York City. Still, considering her strong connection to Black Panther in the comics, Marvel could easily retcon her to originate from Wakanda and acquire her power’s in whatever way Marvel plans to introduce mutants.
The series would follow Monroe’s journey of self-discovery through her personal struggles and struggles controlling her insane amount of power. If Marvel wanted to go with a more shock and awe Wakanda series that goes more in line with the tone of its movies, this could be it.
Game of Thrones… but make it Wakandan
Now that Game of Thrones is off the board, the industry is looking for a show to take its place. Game of Thrones became so popular because of its epic scope, dynamic characters, and interesting dynamics between competing houses in the Sever Kingdoms of Westeros. Marvel Studios and Ryan Coogler now have the unique opportunity to take advantage of the public interest in a story like this and apply it to the Kingdom of Wakanda.
The first movie teased interconnected conflict between the five tribes of Wakanda: The Merchant Tribe, the Border Tribe, the River Tribe, the Mining Tribe, and the Jabari Tribe. There are a few directions that this show could go in, but if done right, the dynamic between these five tribes could potentially replicate the success of Game of Thrones in the MCU.
The original film teased conflict amongst the tribes, particularly with the Jabari Tribe now led by M’Baku. Winston Duke could potential return to star, or it could be a prequel series that explores the founding of Wakanda and the original conflicts that arose from it. The show could explore Wakanda’s internal territorial conflict, religious differences, political strife and much more.
A show like this would have a much broader scale than anything Marvel Studios has planned for Disney+ — at least as of now. Still, it’s an ambitious idea that Ryan Coogler and Kevin Feige could pull off with the right commitment.
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