Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o is working on a complete cycle of Disney’s cinematic portfolio. She is already part of Lucasfilm as Maz Kanata in Star Wars: The Force Awakens while also starring in The Jungle Book and the upcoming Queen of Katwe for The Walt Disney Studios. A voiceover role in a Pixar film can’t be far off, but the next Disney brand for Nyong’o could be Marvel Studios. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the actress is currently in negotiations to star in Marvel’s Black Panther.
Black Panther is the solo feature for the new Marvel Cinematic Universe hero fans just met in Captain America: Civil War. Chadwick Boseman will reprise the role of T’Challa in a film directed by Ryan Coogler (Creed), based on a script co-written by Coogler and Joe Robert Cole. Nyong’o is reportedly up for an unnamed role that is described as the love interest in the film.
In the comics, T’Challa’s most famous love interest and eventual wife (then ex-wife) is Ororo Munroe. Short of massive, top secret negotiations of Spider-Man proportions, we can rule out Munroe, a character better known as Storm of the X-Men. 20th Century Fox still holds exclusive rights to that character and she is currently being played by Alexandra Shipp in X-Men: Apocalypse.
With Storm out, the next option, as far as the source material is concerned, is Monica Lynne, an American who falls in love with T’Challa and lives with him in Wakanda. This seems like an unlikely choice, as an American love interest tethers Wakanda to the outside world in a way that is completely unnecessary given that Black Panther has already been interacting with other heroes. Plus, Lynne doesn’t offer much beyond her romance with T’Challa. It’s the kind of role superhero movies have been leaving behind and there’s no cause to look back.
I don’t believe Nyong’o would be brought in only to fall in love with a warrior when she can play a warrior herself. Look for Nyong’o to play a member of the Dora Milaje. The Dora Milaje are Wakanda’s royal bodyguards, pledged to protect the nation’s king. If you’ve seen Captain America: Civil War, then you’ve already met one of them. She was the woman telling Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), “move or you will be moved” right outside of T’Challa’s car.
The Dora Milaje are badass and it would be awesome to see Nyong’o fighting side-by-side with Black Panther. There is another role, however, that could allow Nyong’o to actually be the Black Panther. If the report about the role of her being a love interest is off, then Nyong’o could play Shuri, T’Challa’s sister. As T’Challa tells Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), the mantle of Black Panther has been passed down for generations. In the comics, that tradition eventually includes Shuri, which would give Nyong’o the chance to star in the series once Boseman is done.
Admittedly, that’s thinking very long-term and assumes that the actress would be interested in signing on for several movies including all the solo films, team-ups, and crossovers. Nyong’o could start out as a member of the Dora Milaje and then, if she and Marvel are up for it, agree on a new deal that will still allow her to be Black Panther. Putting her in the Dora Milaje gives Nyong’o a chance to be part of the action right now without necessarily shutting the door on other possibilities in the future. She and Boseman’s T’Challa could be the ultimate power couple in the MCU and take down anyone who comes to Wakanda looking for trouble.
Whatever the role is, I really hope this deal gets signed. Lupita Nyong’o is a wonderfully talented actress and would be an awesome addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There is already a lot of excitement about Black Panther coming out of Captain America: Civil War, but a casting coup like this would take it to another level.
Black Panther is scheduled for release on February 16, 2018, but Lupita Nyong’o can next be seen in Disney’s Queen of Katwe on September 23, 2016. You can see the trailer for that film below.