How Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Sets The Stage For Doctor Doom In The MCU

With Disney's acquisition of 20th Century Fox, the Marvel Studios sandbox got a lot bigger. It may take time to bring some of the franchise's most anticipated heroes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but that hasn't stopped eager fans from speculating about the where or the when. With a new Fantastic Four film on the horizon, it's only natural that our attentions turn to the Marvel Cinematic Universe debut of one of the franchise's greatest villains: Victor Von Doom, aka Doctor Doom. With so much material to build from, the possibilities really are endless, and many even expected to see Doom in Marvel Studios' latest, "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever."

As promising as a showdown would have been between the kingdom of Latveria and that of Wakanda, Doom does not pop up in the "Black Panther" sequel — not in cameo, and definitely not as the real antagonist pulling the strings from the shadows. Such a reveal, while tempting, never had a place in this particular film, but there was still a major precedent for it. Doom as a character has been around for a long time, and as such he's had his fair share of conflicts with heroes all over the Marvel universe. One of his most interesting showdowns has been with the kingdom of Wakanda, and with its king, T'Challa. Though there wasn't room for him in this particular "Black Panther" film, the comics speak to a conflict that could introduce Doom as a real threat in the future.

Wakanda is Doomed

There are a lot of parallels between Wakanda and Latveria, and between their respective rulers. In the comics, Doctor Doom recognizes an equal in King T'Challa, proposing alliances between their nations whenever an opportunity presents itself. T'Challa always refuses, sensing ulterior motives in Doom (and rightly so), which forces Doom to search for a foothold in Wakanda through less-official channels.

In "Black Panther" Vol. 5 — a series tied to the "Dark Reign" event — T'Challa is mortally wounded in a battle against Doom, so the mantle of Black Panther passes to his sister, Shuri, as he recovers. With T'Challa effectively out of the picture and the royal family slowly losing influence in Wakanda, Doom works to further dismantle the country behind the scenes.

"Dark Reign" sees a hostile group called the Desturi gaining influence in Wakanda. The Desturi are pretty much the antithesis to T'Challa's more liberal, future-focused priorities. They're ultra-conservative, hyper-xenophobic, and determined to bring Wakanda back in line with their old isolationist policies. More importantly, they've infiltrated Wakanda on every level: their ministry, their press, and most importantly, their military. This paints a massive target on certain members of the royal family, particularly T'Challa's wife, Ororo Monroe (aka Storm).

The battle for vibranium

Of course, the Desturi are not operating alone. Their designs on Wakanda align perfectly with Doom's, and Doom in turn supports their hostile takeover with surveillance and technology. As is the case with most threats to Wakanda, Doom has his sights on the nation's cache of vibranium. He plans to supercharge the rare metal with magic and take over the world, as Doom is wont to do — and once the Desturi manage to oust the royal family and sentence Storm to death, he's pretty much gotten his wish.

"Doomwar" — the six-issue limited series by Jonathan Maberry, John Romita Jr., Scot Eaton, Will Conrad and Dean White — picks up immediately where the "Dark Reign" arc leaves off. T'Challa has fully recovered from his duel with Doom, but without the power of the Black Panther or the support of the council, he's forced to search for allies elsewhere. He and Shuri enlist the help of the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, and other Avengers in order to stop Doom — and though they fight bravely, Doom still manages to get his hands on Wakanda's entire stash of vibranium.

The war that ensues between Wakanda and Latveria is packed with casualties — and it only ends with a major consequence for the Marvel universe at large. T'Challa realizes that the only way to stop Doom is to take away the power inherent in vibranium, and he does so through a process called shadow physics: a marriage between traditional alchemy and quantum science. It's the definition of a desperate measure, especially given T'Challa's aversion to magic. But it's just the thing to defeat Doom, whose use of science and magic have singlehandedly made him the most powerful being on Earth.

Could Doctor Doom be the Black Panther's next adversary?

Though T'Challa's plan is the key to retaking Wakanda and saving his people, it leaves the nation without its most valuable resource moving forward. Without the economic stability and military might that vibranium affords, he's forced to turn from his own isolationist leanings and rely on his friends to help rebuild Wakanda. In a lot of ways, "Doomwar" represents a major turning point for the nation. It's very much an "Endgame"-level crossover: with so many heroes chipping in, and the consequences for so many involved, it very well could inform the plot of an "Avengers" film further down the line.

It's no wonder that writer-director Ryan Coogler resisted the urge to cast Doom as the Big Bad in "Wakanda Forever," given the scale of Doom's relationship to the nation. But that doesn't mean that Doom can't serve as an antagonist in a future "Black Panther" film. After all, "Wakanda Forever" brought the issue of vibranium out of the periphery and onto the world stage. With the world's hunger for vibranium now firmly established, it only makes sense that the next adventure focus on the threat that brings to Wakanda.

Could a third film see the newly-minted Black Panther dealing with a Doom invasion? Time will tell.