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What to know before you see it

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We journey back to Wakanda as Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies draws to a close.

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” directed by Ryan Coogler and in theaters Friday, is the second film to focus on the fictional African nation (after 2018’s “Black Panther”) and follows 29 movies, eight TV series and a handful of specials in the MCU.

A lot has happened and you’re probably wondering: Who are the new characters? What are critics saying? Are there end credit scenes? You have questions, and we have answers. Here’s what you need to know before you go see “Black Panther 2.”

When does the movie take place?

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” begins with the news that King T’Challa/Black Panther has died (mirroring “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman’s death), which in the MCU timeline would be shortly after the final battle in 2019’s “Avengers Endgame .” The movie then picks up one year after T’Challa’s death, exploring how Wakanda is coping with the loss.

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What are critics saying about ‘Wakanda Forever’?

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” has received mostly positive reviews (86% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes). ‘s movie critic Brian Truitt calls the movie “a powerful follow-up … that’s funny, clever and heartbreaking, impressive in its world-building, honest in its view of world politics and naturally packed with huge action sequences.”

‘Black Panther 2’ review: ‘Wakanda Forever’ is a profound, action-packed take on life and legacy

Who is Namor?

Namor (Tenoch Huerta Mejía), leader of the underwater kingdom Talokan, sets his sights on Wakanda in Marvel's new

Namor, played by Mexican actor Tenoch Huerta Mejía, is the leader of the underwater kingdom Talokan, a fictional global superpower inspired by Mayan and Mesoamerican culture. Read our interview with Huerta about his role in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”

‘We are here now’: Namor’s Mayan-inspired kingdom is the new enemy in ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’

Who is Riri Williams?

Dominique Thorne makes her debut as young inventor Riri Williams in "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" before headlining her own Disney+ series, "Ironheart."

Riri Williams, played by Dominique Thorne, is another new face for the MCU. Riri – also known as Ironheart in the comics – is a genius from Chicago who tinkers with machines and attends MIT. She’s a young teenager when she starts working with Tony Stark in the comics, but appears to be an older student in “Wakanda Forever.” Riri will return in the upcoming Disney+ series “Ironheart,” expected in late 2023.

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Are there end credits scenes?

Yes! There is one mid-credits scene, so don’t leave right away. No spoilers, but after Rihanna’s new song, “Lift Me Up,” there is a brief, emotional scene before the rest of the credits roll.

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Who is on the soundtrack besides Rihanna?

In addition to “Lift Me Up,” the movie’s soundtrack includes music from Future, Burna Boy, Tems, Stormzy, Fireboy DML, Pink Pantheress and Snow Tha Product among others. They’re not in the track list, but you can also hear a Red Hot Chili Peppers tune in the movie as well as a second Rihanna song, “Born Again,” which plays during the credits.

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What’s next in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

We start Phase 5 of the MCU with “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” which hits theaters Feb. 17, 2023. The second season of “Marvel’s What If …?” is also slated for release in early 2023 on Disney+.

Who’s playing Kang, Namor and more?Meet 5 new faces who loom large in Marvel’s future

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