In Black Panther, during the initial ceremony, Zuri asks whether anybody wants to challenge T'Challa for the throne. He asks each tribe, and then asks the public in general. If anybody wants to challenge, it seems all they'd need to do to rule over Wakanda is to beat T'Challa in an ordinary human duel without any supernatural powers involved.

Later on, this is exactly how Killmonger gets the throne.

Why is it so easy to become a ruler of Wakanda? Why don't they have proper requirements and processes in place so that only the truly worthy can take the throne, where by worthy I mean worthy across numerous aspects (morality, wisdom, strength, intelligence, rationality, mercy, kindness, heritage, etc), as opposed to looking at who's strongest in a regular duel. I mean, by that logic, you'd think Conor McGregor ought to take a shot at ruling Wakanda, because apparently UFC skills is all that matters.

Why have they chosen this bizarre process?

  • 18
    Easy? You think Erik's life was easy? You think M'Baku's life is easy? W'Baki evidently had ambitions, you think he thought it was easy to take on T'Challa? Plain and simple rules are not synonymous with ease.
    – Möoz
    Commented May 8, 2018 at 3:12
  • 30
    In terms of worldwide governments, it's not that crazy ... Commented May 8, 2018 at 4:49
  • 26
    Compare it to real-world democracies, where you basically just need to persuade a bunch of people to like you, and don't even need to fight! It seems to me that it's harder to become King in Wakanda. Commented May 8, 2018 at 11:41
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    It is kind of a massive plot hole that a supposedly more advanced society would use trial by combat for their leadership. That's a really primitive form of government, that you would expect from cavemen or barbarians. Commented May 8, 2018 at 15:23
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    @MarkRogers or from people who are REALLY into tradition. They still use the same suit as before (well, it's updated but same design and function). They still hide from the world because that's what they've always done. In fact, as a secular society, they have little to break them from tradition. There aren't many outsiders that will challenge or influence their culture. The normal people also don't seem to get out much - the only ones that do are trained spies and agents who are very likely taught to be loyal and dogmatic. You can even see this in the beginning.
    – VLAZ
    Commented May 8, 2018 at 15:47

5 Answers 5


It's not THAT easy. But the process is their tradition. Remember, the ruler of Wakanda is also given the powers of the Black Panther and is expected to protect the country from outsiders etc - so combat skills are definitely a requirement.

However, when a King dies, the King's first born takes over - much like in any monarchy. The big difference here to most monarchies is that they invite open challenges from the tribes that make up Wakanda's people. Each tribe has to nominate a challenger if they wish to challenge for the throne. None of the tribes wishes to challenge T'Challa's claim except for M'Baku of the Jabari tribe.

Killmonger has the ability to challenge for the throne because he is "of royal blood" - he's the son of T'Challa's uncle, who was King T'Chaka's brother. If he wasn't of royal blood, then his challenge couldn't be accepted and would be deemed invalid.

Conor McGregor couldn't take a shot at it as he's not Wakandan, so he couldn't be nominated by a tribe, and unless he could prove some royal connection to T'Challa, he's an invalid challenge as well.

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    It might be worth noting how even democratic norms can, with surprising ease, produce a dictator who ignores those norms (e.g. Hitler). So Wakanda isn't unusual in that regard.
    – Obie 2.0
    Commented May 8, 2018 at 7:09
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    @Obie2.0 Like some Chinese leader (Xi Jinping) can abolish the term limits for the presidency.
    – Thomas
    Commented May 8, 2018 at 12:51
  • It's also worth noting that the fights can be to the death. So anyone stepping up from the tribes needs to be willing to die for their chance at the throne. Commented May 9, 2018 at 14:28
  • "Remember, the ruler of Wakanda is also given the powers of the Black Panther" I am not sure of that: movies.stackexchange.com/questions/91586/…
    – WoJ
    Commented Nov 21, 2020 at 14:26

I think the answer is a much simpler one implied by the film: it's a tradition that has become a formality.

At T'Challa's coronation, the three other tribes all presented a champion, but then declined to actually make a challenge. Everyone seemed surprised that the Jabari showed up at all—presumably the Jabari tribe had stopped attending the coronations long ago, or never had attended at all, just another facet of their separation from the rest of Wakandan society.

It seemed to be the case that no one was actually expecting T'Challa to face a challenge, and it's possible that there had been no challenges at all in recent history.

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    +1, This is a common fantasy (and sometimes real life, compare marriage challenges) trope; The weird ancient custom that allows the plot to move forward due to a technicality that was formerly believed will never be invoked by a sane person.
    – Cubic
    Commented May 8, 2018 at 11:36
  • 2
    @Cubic is exactly right. The unwritten norms that govern a society are as important as the written laws, if not more so. If a nation's norms decay, then it's unlikely that mere legislation will save it. There is a lesson for real-world nations in there somewhere.
    – Nobody
    Commented May 8, 2018 at 14:27
  • Also, consider this: the current Black Panther should have a huge advantage in combat training and experience.
    – Obie 2.0
    Commented May 8, 2018 at 17:09
  • @Cubic This does occasionally happen in real life too (see prorogation in Canada in 2008). Commented May 9, 2018 at 11:41
  • @AdamMartin Hence the "and sometimes real life" part of my comment...
    – Cubic
    Commented May 9, 2018 at 11:41

Well, for starters, strength is one the key point, probably the defining point, in selecting a king or a ruler.

Take any tribe for example, the ruler is selected by either a duel (displaying the strength of the person) or going out for a hunt (again, strength). And it's not just the strength that decides the ruler. In any fight or hunt, the person does display his strength to win, but it also requires his smartness, attention to details.

Take any fight from history, person at both side are strong (if not equally strong), but always, the person who uses his mind along with his strength only wins.

And so is the case in Wakanda too. The ruler from the tribes is selected based on the duel they participate in. And don't forget, before the duel, the person (or rather the one who is declared candidate for king, eg. T'challa) is made a regular person, with the superpowers.

Also talking about the 'giving superpower to both the candidate', it isn't the right approach as the flowers that give the power are rare and needs to be preserved.

And, if you think about it, Wakanda is just another place with different tribes, with some vibranium to their disposal ;) So why should they have any different ritual (one containing superpowers)?

You can find such rituals here -

African tribes' rituals

Terrifying rituals


I would consider becoming king of Wakanda easy...

Maybe i missed something, but during ceremony, only champions of each tribe and members of royal family could challenge king.

So if Connor MacGregor decided to challenge king of Wakanda he could refuse. Bear in mind Killmonger was not some stranger who came to Wakanda by accident. He was a member of royal family. Which gives him right to challenge T'Challa.


The King and the Black Panther are normally the same person but one can choose to give up the duties of the Black Panther and devote all their time to being King, which is what T’Chaka did. In his old age he passed the mantle of BP to T’Challa while retaining the mantle of King. So T’Challa ingested the herb but didn’t go through the burial process and transportation to the Ancestral Plane because he wasn’t taking the mantle of King. Because T’Challa was T’Chaka’s firstborn he was next in line to be king anyway so there was no challenge necessary. Also the king can deny any challenge issued as soon as they become king. So T’Chaka would have just said no to Killmonger if he challenged him.

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