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British actress and screenwriter Michaela Coel just joined the cast of Marvel’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the hotly anticipated Black Panther sequel that will focus on an ensemble cast of Wakandan characters.
Best known for her widely acclaimed BBC/HBO series I May Destroy You, Coel previously wrote and starred in the sitcom Chewing Gum, and starred in the sci-fi series Black Earth Rising. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will be her first blockbuster movie role, aside from a brief cameo in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
The casting announcement doesn’t mention who Coel will play, but there’s a lot of speculation that she might be the new Storm—a superhero who previously only appeared in X-Men movies. Storm (aka Ororo Munroe) is a recurring figure in the Black Panther comics and was T’Challa’s wife for a long period of Marvel canon. Until recently, X-Men characters couldn’t appear in the MCU because the X-Men’s film rights belonged to Fox. But after the Disney/Fox merger in 2019, Avengers/X-Men crossovers are perfectly possible. In theory.
If Coel is playing Storm, then she’ll appear onscreen without Storm’s comic book husband. Marvel has no plans to recast Chadwick Boseman‘s T’Challa, with characters like Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) and Shuri (Letitia Wright) expected to take on bigger roles in the sequel.
Most of the Black Panther comics’ more prominent female characters already appeared in the first film, but there are a few other plausible figures Coel could play. The most popular choice would probably be Aneka, a Dora Milaje warrior who is in a relationship with Ayo (Florence Kasumba). Aneka would expand the MCU’s limited cast of canonically queer characters, and might also point toward Marvel adapting a “Midnight Angels” storyline for Black Panther‘s Wakanda-centric Disney+ spinoff.
Of course, Coel may not be playing a predictable character like Aneka or Storm. The MCU has a track record of launching new characters or changing the gender of pre-existing characters from the comics—for instance, Taskmaster (Olga Kurylenko) in Black Widow. So Coel could really be playing anyone.
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*First Published: Jul 22, 2021, 7:15 am CDT
Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a staff writer at the Daily Dot, covering geek culture and fandom. Specializing in sci-fi movies and superheroes, she also appears as a film and TV critic on BBC radio. Elsewhere, she co-hosts the pop culture podcast Overinvested. Follow her on Twitter: @Hello_Tailor