The fact that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever exists at all is something of a moviemaking miracle. Not only did the film have the tall task of living up to the expectations set by its Oscar-winning predecessor, but it also had to deal with the sudden and tragic loss of its leading star, Chadwick Boseman. Director Ryan Coogler, who was a close friend of Boseman's, opted to come back and tell a story that would honor the late icon, while also moving the journey of Wakanda forward. That obviously meant making a ton of changes to the sequel's original concept, which was meant to feature Boseman's T'Challa front and center.
One element of the Black Panther sequel that never changed, however, was its inclusion of Namor. Coogler's original version of the film that he had worked on with Boseman was always meant to feature Namor as the main antagonist.
"He always was the antagonist in this version, since I signed on to do another one," Coogler told Uproxx in a recent interview. "It was something that the studio was excited about. It was something that Chadwick was excited about. Fairly early into the process, we settled on him building a culture out of Indigenous Meso-American influences. We were always excited about that. Chadwick was excited about that. That was present in that original script that was written before Chadwick passed away. Yeah, how we pulled it off? A lot of hard work. I have incredible collaborators."
"My co-writer is Joe Robert Cole. Obviously, Nate Moore was present, Kyana Davidson was present from Marvel and Kevin Feige and Victoria Alonso and Lou D'Esposito. It was a team effort."
Namor is one of Marvel Comics' oldest characters, and he makes sense as an adversary to Wakanda in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He shares a lot of the same values as Wakanda, like protecting his people above everything else.
"Through the story of him and his mom, and her life and her death, that impacted his view of the world. That gave us the other element of Namor in the publishing, its extreme xenophobia," Coogler explained. "You know what I mean? It's this idea of, "it's us and it's everybody else." And him seeing the world that way. I thought if we could capture all of those things in this guy and make him someone that you would care about, in a way, then we can have something special. That was what we went after."
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever arrives in theaters on November 11th.