Black Panther: Wakanda Forever just came out and it has delivered a very satisfying conclusion to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase 4. While certain projects like WandaVision and Spider-Man: No Way Home are already exceptional offerings, the heartfelt manner in which the sequel handled T’Challa’s passing, coupled with a strong story, helped this film reverberate more positively amongst the viewers. But what’s even better is how it paves the way for the MCU in Phases 5 and 6.

Although much of the film centers on the threat of Namor and Talocan, there are several ways in which it sets up the future of the MCU. We take a look below at how Black Panther: Wakanda Forever accomplishes this feat.

5 ways in which Black Panther: Wakanda Forever sets up the future of the MCU

Black Panther, Wakanda Forever, Marvel, Entertainment

5. Escalating geopolitical tensions leading to Secret Invasion and Armor Wars

Even with Namor as the main antagonist, the threat of established nations vying to gain leverage via the use of Vibranium seems to be another concern for Wakanda. This can be seen when France went under the table to steal the resource, and even the United States kept close tabs on it as well.

The increasing tension between these superpowers is somehow a glimpse into Secret Invasion and Armor Wars, two upcoming Marvel shows that will land on Disney Plus soon. Both of these projects deal with themes of betrayal, subterfuge, and how authoritative establishments deal with the immense power at their disposal. With how Wakanda Forever handled the political and spy aspect of the film, it’s safe to say that these elements will find their way to these shows soon enough.

4. Ironheart series on Disney Plus

The primary device Wakanda Forever used to escalate the conflict is the Vibranium-detector invented by Riri Williams. Thanks to her invention, Namor found a reason to attack the surface, as well as Wakanda itself later on in the film. And as the story progressed, viewers got to know more about Williams and how integral she became in defeating Talocan in the end.

Of course, this won’t be the end for Riri herself as there’s an upcoming Ironheart series that’s set to come out on Disney Plus soon. With her suit surrendered back to Shuri, it’s expected that the MIT student will create a new one for the show. It’s expected that the path she started on in the movie will be developed further by using a new adversary, which is the Hood played by Anthony Ramos. In any case, it looks like Riri Wiliams is going to stay as a vital part of the MCU in Phase 5 and beyond.

3. The main MCU’s Illuminati

The introduction of Namor in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever ties the MCU closer to the comic universe. As it stands, the Talocan ruler is one of the more prominent characters in the comics given his long history. Part of that history, of course, is his association with a group that was recently introduced to Marvel fans – the Illuminati.

While the version we saw in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a diverse and surprising group, the one that originated in the comics is a more formidable collective. Along with Stephen Strange, Iron Man, Black Bolt, Mister Fantastic, Charles Xavier, and other great characters, Namor is counted as a member of the Illuminati. Basically, these are the most influential individuals in the superhuman community who came together to work behind the scenes against planetary and multiversal threats.

Thanks to the addition of Namor to the main MCU, fans are one step closer to seeing a new and better version of the Illuminati. With Secret Wars coming soon, there’s really a need for this group as it was integral to the 2015 comic event it mainly draws inspiration from.

2. The introduction of Thunderbolts

In a move no one expected, Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Valentina Allegra de Fontaine appears in the Black Panther sequel. This time, though, she’s the new CIA director in charge of the United States intelligence front against other nations, primarily Wakanda in this film.

Thunderbolts, Marvel, Entertainment

Her appearance here, along with those in Black Widow and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, is meant to drive up hype for the final film of Phase 5 – Thunderbolts. Similar to how Nick Fury was used to assemble the Avengers, Val is also being utilized in a similar manner to gather these villains and anti-heroes alike. With the help of her constant cameos and appearances, the introduction of this new group will have all the foundation it needs when it comes out.

1. X-Men

During the part where Namor explains how he came to be to Shuri, the Talocan ruler says his long lifespan and ability to breathe both below and above water is due to him being a mutant. This short line, once again, drives the concept of mutants in the MCU, as what was done in Ms. Marvel a couple of months back.

The revelation of Namor’s mutant ancestry is important as Marvel is slowly building up the imminent arrival of mutants in the MCU, and eventually, the X-Men. This, of course, is a big deal as the superhero group is among the heavy-hitters the studio has to keep the momentum going in Marvel’s favor.

It’s expected that once the Multiverse Saga is done, the spotlight will be on these mutants. Until then, fans will have Phases 5 and 6 and all the countless projects that will be released in the coming years.