Black Panther is often assumed to take place in 2018, but there’s one line early on in the film that places it far earlier. This is part 18 of a 20 part series discussing when each film in the MCU takes place. So when does Black Panther really take place?
“…And what are these?” “The real question is WHAT ARE THOSE!?”
We start the film with a flashback in Oakland, 1992, following prince N’Jobu planning a revolution with stolen vibranium. Throughout the film, as we learn more about his son Erik and how King T’Chaka dealt with the treason, we flash back to this moment several times.
Besides dating those 1992 scenes, there’s no other dates featured in this film, especially not any present day dates. But there is this line early on in the film that firmly plants it shortly after Captain America: Civil War. “The beloved ruler was one of many confirmed dead after a terrorist attack at the United Nations, a week ago.” We discussed in Part 13 that Civil War took place in early April 2016, so that places Black Panther sometime shortly thereafter in mid-April 2016. Is it likely this news footage is a recording being played back for dramatic effect? No, as King T’Chaka’s death is news to Nakia, and the coronation ceremony would happen as soon as possible considering there’s no reigning monarch. The ritual takes place the day T’Challa arrives back in Wakanda and rest of the film occurs over a three day period, which is surprising, because so much gets done, but the days are clearly defined.
The real question is whether or not the mid and end-credits scenes occur in 2016, or later. This is a guess, but I would suggest that this scene where T’Challa invites Shuri to be the head of the science and information exchange occurs near the end of 2016, and that this scene with Bucky waking up in Wakanda happens sometime during the fall of 2016. But this scene here, with Wakanda coming out to the shadows, would need an extraordinary amount of preparation, and couldn’t have happened before 2017.
6.2% of the film takes place in 1992, 92.6% in 2016, and another 1.2% in 2017.