When audiences see Black Panther: Wakanda Forever in theaters, they’ll probably be met with a lot of emotions. The second film in the Marvel Studios franchise will attempt to do the impossible- moving forward when its leading star is no longer alive to continue the story.
Even amid that challenge, the cast and crew seem to have tackled it by putting all their energies and passion into this new film.
“In my memory, the shock had quickly turned to ask what do we do?,” said Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige. He continued, “It became relatively clear soon after that this amazing ensemble of characters and this world that had been created onscreen needed to continue.”
Director Ryan Coogler was already a year into developing a movie with T’Challa in it when Chadwick passed away, but Feige said that he still poured his heart and soul into the new movie we have today. “It’s still a celebration of Wakanda, with the added element of grief that needed to be there.”
While grief is a central theme in the movie, there were other emotions that needed to come along on the journey since “Wakanda Forever” also needed to bring movement to the MCU Phase 4 narrative.
Producer Nate Moore said, “You’ll see and experience joy and sometimes humor in our film because it’s all the emotions anyone feels with profound loss. We had such a collection of characters with different views and connections to T’Challa, and Ryan [Coogler] was all to show those different colors of grief.”
One of the colors of grief shown comes through the new film’s antagonist, named Namor. Played by MCU newcomer Tenoch Huerta, he believed that his role was tricky because you needed to see this darkness come from a movie that’s largely a tribute to good. “Why people choose different reactions to grief is always a difficult choice. You don’t want to hurt anyone, but sometimes you do.”
On the opposite end of the character arc was Letitia Wright’s character, Shuri, who she believed needed to come to grips with what happened to T’Challa. “I remember speaking to Ryan [Coogler] about how we take the story forward. Shuri is such a beacon of light and love in the first film, but her brother role-model and protector is gone, what will she become?” Wright said.
Even people who didn’t act felt their grief move to action in honor of Chadwick Boseman, too. Filmmakers were able to court Rihanna to come back after a multi-year hiatus of making music to do the single for this film. “She was open to it all, especially after seeing the trailer and these actors’ performances. But the truth is, she told us when she played us the song that she really did this for Chad,” Coogler said.
In effect, everything and everyone involved with making “Wakanda Forever” is a reflection of deep passion amid extreme loss because the cast and filmmakers are grieving just as much as they think the audience will be too when they see the film in theaters.
“Hopefully people can really resonate with that and find some healing alongside us,” said Wright.