How do you make a sequel to Black Panther without Chadwick Boseman? That was the question facing Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige and returning writer-director Ryan Coogler, confronted by the unimaginable task of rewriting and reworking Black Panther: Wakanda Forever without leading man Boseman. The actor, who died before the start of production, privately battled colon cancer until his death at the age of 43 in August 2020. Moving forward, Coogler and his cast — among them Letitia Wright, Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong'o, Winston Duke, and Angela Bassett — poured their real grief into Wakanda Forever, which sees the kingdom of Wakanda mourning Boseman's King T'Challa in the wake of his death.
"All of us very much believe that this feels like the most important movie we've ever made," Feige says in a new Wakanda Forever featurette focused on Coogler's return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, below. "That is what every crew member focused on every day, and none more so than Ryan Coogler at the helm of it all."
At the heart of the story are Queen Ramonda (Bassett) and Princess Shuri (Wright), who must forge a path forward for Wakanda as a new threat to the African nation surfaces: Namor (Tenoch Huerta) the Sub-Mariner, ruler of the hidden undersea kingdom of Talokan.
"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," Bassett says. Adds Wright, "His heart is really pure. And we should protect him at all costs."
Wakanda Forever was always going to be about grief. In the original script that would have starred Boseman, King T'Challa found himself mourning the loss of time after suddenly "blipping" back to life in Avengers: Endgame — five years after being snapped out of existence in Avengers: Infinity War.
"When you get down to what makes this movie human, that is where Ryan really excels," adds producer Nate Moore.
"I just finished [writing the script]. My last conversation with him was calling him asking him if he wanted to read it before I got notes from the studio. That was the last time we spoke," Coogler said. "He passed maybe a couple of weeks after I finished." Near the end of his four-year cancer battle, Coogler said of Boseman, "He was tired ... I could tell he was tired."1comments
Starring Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, Angela Bassett, Tenoch Huerta Mejía, Winston Duke, Martin Freeman, Dominique Thorne, Florence Kasumba, Michaela Coel, Alex Livanalli, and Mabel Cadena, Marvel Studios' Black Panther: Wakanda Forever opens in theaters November 11th.