Director Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther (2018) created history by becoming the first-ever superhero movie to bag an Academy Award nomination in the Best Picture category. The movie was a pure celebration of African culture, a nod to afro-futurism, and proved that once in a while a superhero movie can take itself seriously. Now he’s bringing us the sequel Black Panther: Wakanda Forever where he touches upon Mesoamerican culture and addresses the loss of the protector of Wakanda and his friend Chadwick Boseman. In a new featurette, the cast and crew of the movie talks about Coogler’s process and vision for the upcoming feature.
Fans lost Boseman to colon cancer in 2020, though the actor never disclosed his illness to anyone in the industry, or otherwise, coming as a shock to both fans and his peers. By that time, Coogler had written the story of Wakanda Forever. The studio decided against recasting the character, and Coogler took the story in a new direction where the reel imitates real, and Wakanda is now mourning over the loss of its beloved king. “All of us very much believe that this feels like the most important movie we’ve ever made. That is what every crew member focused on every day, and none more so than Ryan Coogler at the helm of it all,” said Marvel head, Kevin Feige. Adds producer Nate Moore, “When you get down to what makes this movie human, that is where Ryan really excels.”
The new feature sees the entire Black Panther cast returning along with the addition of some new faces like Dominique Thorne as Ironheart/RiRi Williams and Tenoch Huerta, who plays Namor, the Submariner, the main antagonist of the movie. The cast and crew have time and again emphasized that the movie pays a tribute to Boseman as well as is a celebration of cultures. Angela Bassett, who plays Queen Ramonda, explains, “Ryan has such a big heart and is such a great storyteller. The actors that he’s brought together were filled with emotion and passion.” As Lupita Nyong’o elaborates, “There’s embracing of culture and Ryan is going a step further. We’re remembering, we’re restoring, we’re celebrating.”
While most of the returning cast is aware of Coogler’s process, having worked with him on the original movie, new entrant Huerta describes him as an “artist,” saying, “He has the heart to listen to you. To look in your eyes and go deep, not just in the story, but in your soul.” Sharing his sentiments, Thorne feels that despite being on a big Marvel movie set, Coogler never loses sight of his people, saying, “even in the world as fantastical as, and as magical, and as exciting as the Marvel Cinematic Universe – he has an understanding of people.” Returning actor Letitia Wright feels that everyone is “transformed” through this movie-making experience. Adding, “His heart is really pure, and we should protect him at all cost.” Though for Coogler, above all Wakanda Forever is a “relationship movie”. While he reveals that the movie has some incredible set pieces, he said:
But at the end of the day, I think what people are going to really remember is the conversations. How do you move forward after losing someone that meant so much to you? You have to continue their legacy,” Coogler said.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever premieres on November 11. You can watch the featurette below: