Disclaimer - The following article contains full spoilers for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.One of the many reasons why the Marvel Cinematic Universe became such a popular and lucrative experiment in the MCU is how it seamlessly blends completely unique characters and worlds and connects them through a shared universe. The same place that's home to a Norse god and a frozen World War II veteran is also home to a talking raccoon and a pacifist werewolf, and yet, when these characters inevitably meet for a crossover, it never feels jarring and comes across as relatively seamless. Though planning every meticulous reference and teasing every future story does have its drawbacks, the Easter eggs, and references that permeate virtually every MCU property almost always have a satisfying payoff.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is certainly no exception, with Easter eggs ranging from blink-and-you-'ll-miss-it deep cuts from the source material comics all the way to overt teases for what's to come next for the MCU. Many Marvel fans who haven't dived into the comics usually have that one friend who can explain what these moments mean and how they fit into the MCU. On the off chance you don't have a resident Marvel Comics expert, consider us as your stand-in as we recap every MCU Easter egg found in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Trevor Noah (The Daily Show) returns to voice Griot, the Wakandan artificial intelligence who had a small role in the first Black Panther film and has a greatly expanded role as Shuri's very own personal assistant. Griot proves to be an excellent ally and resource over the course of the film, but not even his advanced technology can prevent T'Challa's mysterious illness.
It might seem odd to consider the theme music of the first film to be an Easter egg, but composer Ludwig Göransson made a few bold decisions as to how to incorporate the original film's Oscar-winning score into the sequel. Though excerpts of the main theme motif are sparingly sprinkled throughout the film, instead opting to come up with new themes for Shuri and the rest of the characters. We only really hear a full rendition of the music during T'Challa's funeral, signifying that this was a simple yet effective way to show that the person in the Black Panther suit may change, but Chadwick Baseman's legacy as T'Challa will last forever.
The first Black Panther film introduced Zuri (Forest Whitaker), the spiritual warrior shaman leader for Wakanda and advisor to the king. Zuri sacrificed himself to save T'Challa from a vengeful Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), but as we see during T'Challa's funeral, Zuri's position as shaman has been filled by a new female leader, bearing the same spear that saved Wakanda from a tyrannical madman.
Like all MCU projects, the Marvel Studios logo gets a flashy intro, but things are a bit different this time. Instead of the standard collection of all the MCU's heroes, this intro exclusively features footage of the late Chadwick Boseman's time as King T'Challa. This is actually the second time that Marvel has used this intro, the first time being when it was added to the Disney+ version of Black Panther in November 2020 following Boseman's untimely and tragic passing.
Image via Roadside Attractions
One of the earliest scenes in the film shows an expedition in the Atlantic Ocean to find a repository of Vibranium outside Wakandan jurisdiction. It's here we meet a scientist, played by Lake Bell, and a security chief, played by Robert John Burke.
This actually isn't Lake Bell's first time in the Marvel multiverse, as she was the voice of Natasha Romanov in the Disney+ animated anthology series What If...? and had a smaller role as the ill-fated Vanessa Fisk in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse . Though perhaps Bell is best known for her take on Poison Ivy in the raunchy and hysterical animated Harley Quinn series. Robert John Burke on the other hand has not been a part of the Marvel universe until now, but he's still an experienced and recognized actor in the industry, having appeared in Robocop 3 , Confessions of a Dangerous Mind , and BlacKkKlansman .
The inclusion of these two talented performers in the MCU is exciting, but seeing as how Namor (Tenoch Huerta Mejía) chucked their helicopter nose first into the Atlantic, we likely won't see them again.
Vibranium, to the Wakandans and to the audience, was long thought to be an untraceable alloy found only in Wakanda. That proves not to be the case, as a significant repository is found in the Atlantic, thanks to a major technological advancement from teenage scientist Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne). This not only casts centuries of Wakandan history into doubt, it's also the event that kickstarts the deadly conflict between Wakanda and Talokan.
CNN's own Anderson Cooper makes an unexpected cameo as himself, and he brings some direct references to Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth).
Two CNN broadcasts appear in the film, the first being an explanation of Wakanda's deteriorating foreign policy relations. As Cooper explains the story, the chyron caption at the bottom of the television screen mentions Scott Lang, AKA Ant-Man, and his best-selling memoir, which we got a glimpse of in the exclusive footage for the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp : Quantumania that was screened at this year's San Diego Comic-Con and D23 Expo.
In the second broadcast, which informs the world that Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) has mysteriously died, we see another chyron that details something of a treaty taking place at New Asgard, showing that the new Asgardian home that was introduced in Avengers: Endgame and further fleshed out in Thor: Love and Thunder continues to be a bastion of progress for what the Asgardians call Midgard.
Queen Ramonda isn't as big a fan of the advanced technology, saying something along the lines of AI will eventually kill us all. An understandable point of view given how genocidal "murder-bot" Ultron (James Spader) nearly wiped out all of humanity in Avengers: Age of Ultron .
When Ramonda attempts to have a heart-to-heart with Shuri on the shore, they spot three elephants. Given the size of the elephants, it appears to be an adult parent, an older teen, and a young infant. It's likely a nice bit of symbolism signifying the bond that Ramonda, T'Challa, and Shuri all shared that the Queen wants to mend despite T'Challa's absence. To read into the symbolism even further, Namor's arrival startling the elephants could signify how he and the Talokanil are primed to drive the Wakandan royal family apart.
M'Baku (Winston Duke) makes a welcome return as the leader of the Jabari tribe, now an ally to the Wakandan tribes rather than an estranged rival. He waltzes into the throne room chewing on a carrot, showing that the joke he made in the last film saying they were vegetarians is still very much true (though the Jabari still seem okay with killing animals for the fur to keep warm in the mountains).
Our first-ever appearance of Riri Williams, better known by her comics alter-ego of Ironheart, sees the young genius successfully navigating the buzzing campus of MIT. Not only is Riri's enrollment at the college accurate to the comics, but it also shows that pretty much every brilliant mind in the MCU wants to go to MIT since that was the dream school of Peter Parker (Tom Holland) and his friends in Spider-Man: No Way Home .
When Shuri, Okoye (Danai Gurrira), and Riri need to make a daring escape from law enforcement, the princess and her bodyguard already see that Riri has already used her "borrowed" Stark tech to make her very own prototype super suit. When she's excitedly flying through the city of Boston, it's hard not to think of Tony Stark's (Robert Downy Jr.) first flight in the original Iron Man . The two scenes are further mirrored when Riri sees her early prototype has limitations when she flies too high without any mask to provide oxygen, much like how Tony flew too high on his first flight and his suit began to freeze.
In Namor's explanation of his origins, he drops a very big buzzword for Marvel fans - mutant. Ever since Disney's acquisition of 20th Century Studios, fans have been patiently waiting for the inevitable introduction of mutants (otherwise known as people born with superpowers in the Marvel universe) and the most famous heroic team comprised of them, the X-Men. This marks the third time we've had a direct reference to mutants potentially existing in the Marvel Cinematic Multiverse, the first being the return of Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and the explanation for Kamala Khan's (Imma Vellani) powers in Ms. Marvel .
Namor's origins and the new focus on his Mayan heritage are expertly incorporated into the film while managing to also stay extremely faithful to the comic character. Not only does the origin of his name come from a Spanish missionary when he calls him "el niño sin amor" (translates to "the boy without love"), but his Talokan disciples call him K'uk'ulkan. Otherwise known as the feathered serpent god, K'uk'ulkan is a deity that was worshiped by Mesoamerican civilizations prior to the arrival of European invasion, and Namor obviously gets this nickname from his unique winged feet.
For much of the film, the Talokanil aren't really considered to be beneath the Wakandans in any way. In fact, they're the only other ancient civilization that we know of to be matched to Wakanda in terms of their secretive culture and advanced technology. We also see similarities in their cultures when NAmor begins to rally the Talokanil for war, with the slogan of "Rise Talokan" being cheered and a two-palm hand gesture showing respect to their nation, not unlike the iconic phrase of "Wakanda Forever" and their legendary arms crossed pose.
When Shuri took the heart-shaped herb and found herself in the Ancestral Plane, the last person she expected to see was her fearsome late cousin, Erik Killmonger. Michael B. Jordan of course returns to the role, making this the fourth consecutive Ryan Coogler-directed film he's appeared in, proving he's the director's good luck charm.
In Killmonger's verbal assault on Shuri and her family, he draws special attention to how T'Challa was a weak leader for sparing Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl), a terrorist who was responsible for the death of King T'Chaka (John Kani) in Captain America: Civil War . This is all the Ancestral Plane testing Shuri rage and desire for vengeance for Namor's killing of Ramonda, with Killmonger trying to manipulate his cousin into giving into the dark side and taking the life of the feathered serpent god.
We're going to learn a lot more about Riri Williams when her own show Ironheart premieres on Dinsey+ later next year, but Wakanda Forever did drop a few hints to her family, which historically plays a major part in her comics origin. She first mentions her step-father, a skilled mechanic who's rumored to be played by Alden Ehrenreich. She also mentions she got a lot of her technical know-how from her brother, which is interesting since the comics version of Riri only has a sister.
Though it takes a while for Okoye to come around to Shuri gaudy blue armor she's created, she eventually comes around and gets a well-deserved superhero suit of her own, along with her colleague Aneka (Michaela Coel). Thus, the pair of Dora Milaje guards become the first Midnight Angels, who in the comics are the most elite strike team in all of Wakanda's military force, with them taking part in advanced operations with the occasional use of superior suits and weaponry not unlike those seen in the film.
When dueling M'Baku for the throne, T'Challa received words of encouragement from Queen Ramonda, telling the prince to "show him who you are." When Shuri is in a similar situation in the final battle with Namor, Ramonda offers those same words to her daughter from the fabled Ancestral Plane, which also gives her the strength to beat her opponent.
In case you were confused why Namor just started speaking Latin in the final battle, that's because "Imperius Rex" is Namor's classic catchphrase from the Marvel comics. The phrase roughly translates in English to "Empire King," and Namor typically says it to make clear to his enemies that he is the most powerful oceanic force in the world.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is now playing in theaters.