Posted by Kit Simpson Browne @Kitsb
Staff Writer, Superheroes, Star Wars and such. Bad jokes aplenty. Can be gently prodded on Twitter at @kitsb1
Kit Simpson Browne

(Warning: The following contains potential - albeit largely theoretical - SPOILERS for Marvel's forthcoming Black Panther solo movie, as well as several past entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Proceed with whatever level of caution the all-powerful panther god suggests to you is wise...)

Now, with the Black Panther cast now featuring more critically acclaimed acting talent than the average Best Picture nominee, you'd be forgiven for thinking that there's hardly going to be any room in the movie for any already-established Marvel characters. After all, with the illustrious likes of Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira and Michael B. Jordan joining Chadwick Boseman's T'Challa in the movie, is there really all that much call for Thor to turn up for some sort of random, lightning-tinged cameo, or for Nick Fury to shout at someone over the phone to establish continuity?

Perhaps not, but even so...

Black Panther Could Feature More Marvel Heroes Than You Think

Also explosions. Lots of explosions. [Marvel Studios]
Also explosions. Lots of explosions. [Marvel Studios]

After all, with Captain America: Civil War ending the way it did, and Black Panther arriving just a few months before Avengers: Infinity War hits the screen (February and May 2018, respectively), there's every possibility that T'Challa's solo movie is going to prove deceptively key to the MCU's future - and feature more Marvel heroes than you might think as a result.

Speaking of deceptively key superhero appearances, check out:

And, so, let's take a look at...

Five Marvel Heroes We Could See Turn Up In Black Panther

They're behind you, BP! [Marvel Comics]
They're behind you, BP! [Marvel Comics]

First up?

5. The Winter Soldier

a.k.a. Popsicle Boy Bucky. [Marvel Studios]
a.k.a. Popsicle Boy Bucky. [Marvel Studios]

Now, admittedly, this one's hardly a shot in the dark, seeing as Captain America: Civil War's closing moments deposited a re-frozen Bucky 'Winter Soldier' Barnes in Wakanda, but it's still worth noting that everyone's favorite brain-washed killing machine is likely to turn up at some point in Black Panther's proceedings. A perfect deus ex machina for the final act, perhaps?

Plus, of course, the presence of Bucky makes it entirely possible that we'll see...

4. Captain America

a.k.a. Old Man Steve. [Marvel Comics]
a.k.a. Old Man Steve. [Marvel Comics]

After all, if Bucky really does end up thawing out and kicking some villainous butt alongside BP, there's a pretty solid chance that we'll see Cap turn up in the movie's closing moments to check on his old pal. Or, alternatively, there's always the possibility that Steve and the rest of his renegade Avengers are actually going to be hanging around in Wakanda in the film's opening act, giving the film one hell of a connectivity boost.

Black Panther's potential cameos aren't limited to already-established characters, however. Indeed, we could well see...

3. Captain Marvel

a.k.a. Your New Favorite Hero (in 2019). [Marvel Comics]
a.k.a. Your New Favorite Hero (in 2019). [Marvel Comics]

Much has been made of Brie Larson's recent casting as Carol 'Captain Marvel' Danvers being well-timed for her to film a role in Avengers: Infinity War, but it's also entirely possible that Danvers is being lined up to be briefly introduced in Black Panther beforehand. After all, Marvel Studios has long been fond of teasing iconic characters in post-credits sequences - so why not do so just a few short months before Infinity War arrives?

Or, alternatively of course, there's always a more established character like...

2. War Machine

a.k.a. Definitely Not Iron Patriot. [Marvel Studios]
a.k.a. Definitely Not Iron Patriot. [Marvel Studios]

Who, if the US government is looking for some sort of superheroic liaison to Wakanda at some point in the movie, is pretty much the only option. After all, not only is the only proven military officer with superhero-ing experience out there, but his injuries from Captain America: Civil War have likely left him fairly available. Plus, pretty much every other Avenger is either on the run or publicly disgraced, so there's really not much of an alternative if an 'official' cameo is required.

Except, of course, for...

1. Iron Man

a.k.a. Slappable, Slappable Tony. [Marvel Comics]
a.k.a. Slappable, Slappable Tony. [Marvel Comics]

Who could, of course, make a sneaky cameo in the film's closing moments to attempt to recruit Black Panther to a new Avengers team. Personally, though, I'd much rather see Tony attempt to help T'Challa out throughout the film, only to continually discover that every suggestion he makes has already been thought of by the Wakandans, and thoroughly debunked.

Nothing says fun quite like teaching Tony Stark a lesson in humility, after all.

Especially if its in the form of a dance-off:

What do you reckon, though? Who would you like to see turn up in Black Panther? Let us know below!