With less than two weeks left before the premiere of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the cast and crew are opening up about the upcoming movie, giving spoiler-free insight into the movie and talking about their tribute to their departed friend. Director Ryan Coogler officially spilled the beans about the original Wakanda Forever script, had Chadwick Boseman lived to reprise his role as T’Challa in the upcoming sequel film.
In the summer of 2020, the same year that Chadwick Boseman passed away, Ryan Coogler was drafting the script that would become Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. While the world mourned the loss of Boseman, Coogler had the unenviable task of figuring out how the show would go on without their leading man.
They decided to not recast T’Challa, despite a lot of fans wanting another actor playing the role, simply because T’Challa is a huge role model and inspiration, especially for African-American people and the representation that Black Panther brings to the MCU.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
In August, Coogler wrote in remembrance,
“I spent the last year preparing, imagining and writing words for him to say, that we weren’t destined to see.”Ryan Coogler
The interesting thing is, though, Coogler admits Black Panther: Wakanda Forever planned to be about grief, even before Boseman’s death. While the overarching tone of grief felt in the final version of Wakanda Forever were present in Coogler’s original drafts, in earlier versions of the movie, Boseman’s T’Challa, instead, mourned the loss of time.
Like half of the population of the world in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, T’Challa was ‘blipped’ out of existence at the end of 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War when Thanos used the Infinity Stones to erase half the world. At the climax of Avengers: Endgame, thanks to Tony Stark’s sacrifice, T’Challa returns, along with all the “blipped” citizens.
“The tone was going to be similar. The character was going to be grieving the loss of time, you know, coming back after being gone for five years. As a man with so much responsibility to so many, coming back after a forced five years absence, that’s what the film was tackling. He was grieving time he couldn’t get back. Grief was a big part of it.”Ryan Coogler
Drafting a new story:
After Boseman’s death, Coogler worked with co-writer Joe Robert Cole to draft a new story. While the plot and protagonist changed, there are still elements of Wakanda Forever left from Coogler’s original script, aside from the overall tone of grief. Namor the Sub-mariner and mutant, portrayed by Tenoch Huerta, “was always the antagonist.”
“There were other characters, for sure, that we considered including,” Coogler says. “Namor was always there.”
What can we expect in the sequel?
Thanks to the two trailers that we’ve already seen, fans know that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever explores the loss of T’Challa, mirroring the loss of Boseman. The movie starts with the offscreen passing of T’Challa, which leads all of Wakanda, including the royal family — T’Challa’s mother Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) and his scientific sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) — to continue protecting Wakanda from outside plunderers hoping to seize its precious vibranium.
Other main characters include T’Challa’s love interest, Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) and the general of the Dora Milaje and head of Wakandan armed forces and intel, Okoye (Danai Gurira). Their grief and sadness is shown in the trailers; the whole of Wakanda mourns the loss of their king.
Namor the Sub-mariner:
Black Panther’s longtime comic book rival, Namor the Sub-mariner, swims to the surface of the MCU through the movie’s plot, in which Wakanda endures an existential (and physical) war with Namor’s kingdom, the secret underwater nation of Talokan. In the MCU, Namor is a mutant, making him the third mutant to appear in the MCU, following the appearance of Professor X in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Kamala Khan/Ms Marvel in Ms Marvel.
While Black Panther: Wakanda Forever crowns a new Black Panther (most people suspect that T’Challa’s sister, Shuri, will become the new Black Panther) to defend Wakanda, the movie also memorializes the unforgettable work of the late Boseman. Coogler says that working on Wakanda Forever is all about moving forward.
“Who the protagonist was, the flaws of the protagonist, what the protagonist was dealing with in their journey, all of that stuff had to be different due to us losing him and the decisions that we made about moving forward.”
Seeing as Boseman is such a huge part of Black Panther and the MCU at large, it is great that the cast and crew of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever are honoring him in such a wonderful way. Wakanda Forever opens in theaters on November 11.
FEATURED IMAGE VIA MARVEL