Before Black Panther was a smashing success culturally as well as at the box office, Marvel Studios CEO Kevin Feige was already receptive to the idea of a sequel. He went on to say the studio will “absolutely” go ahead with a follow-up, although nothing has been set in stone. (Recent rumors of director Ryan Coogler approaching Donald Glover for a role turned out to be fake.) However, a new move in the Marvel Cinematic Universe release calendar suggests the sequel could be hiding in plain sight.
On Tuesday, Disney decided to shake up its 2020-2022 releases, per Comic Book Resources. Indiana Jones 5 was moved back a year, and an untitled MCU film was moved up more than five months from July 30, 2021 to Feb. 12, 2021. (The original Panther's Feb. 16 placement smack dab in the middle of Black History Month did not feel incidental.) Dating a sequel almost exactly three years after its predecessor is a classic Marvel movie executed with Avengers: Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Iron Man 3.
Screenrant notes that even when MCU franchises aren't dropping installments like clockwork every three years, they like to stake out certain months to call their own. Thor: The Dark World and Ragnarok are November babies, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Far From Home are July flicks, every Iron Man dropped in May—February's is Panther's for the taking.
“One of the favorite pastimes at Marvel Studios is sitting around on a Part One and talking and dreaming about what we would do in a Part Two,” Feige said back in March. “There have been plenty of those conversations as we were putting together the first Black Panther.” He added that No. 2 already has a “solid direction.”
Of course, no announcements of any kind have been made, and Marvel is expected to keep quiet until the release of Avengers 4 movie in May 2019, which will mark the end of the third phase of the MCU. A new phase will begin in the summer of 2019 with the release of Spider-Man: Far From Home. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, slated for 2020, is the only other confirmed title for phase four. Should Thanos allow it, a significant chunk of the original Black Panther cast—plus Coogler—would likely be game to return. Feige has more or less confirmed he's counting on T’Challah to make his triumphant return to theaters, and one theory says the Panther film holds a key to getting the Avengers out of their current extreme predicament.