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Ryan Coogler discusses making Black Panther: Wakanda Forever without Chadwick Boseman

Updated Nov 14th, 2022 11:36AM EST
A poster showing King T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) during the funeral.
Image: Marvel Studios

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With September almost over, the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever release is getting closer and closer. Before the highly anticipated sequel hits theaters, we’ll witness Marvel’s big marketing push for Black Panther 2. And we’ll find out plenty of spoiler-free details about the emotional making of Wakanda Forever.

It so happens that a brand new interview with the cast and crew might have kicked off that marketing push. Ryan Coogler revealed how he approached the sequel in light of the heartbreaking passing of Chadwick Boseman, the original Black Panther.

Mind you, some spoilers might follow below.

Making Black Panther: Wakanda Forever without Chadwick Boseman

After publishing the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever cover of the November edition of Empire, the magazine shared a few tidbits from interviews with the writer/director and the actors.

Coogler, who also wrote and directed the first Black Panther breakout hit, revealed his approach to making the sequel.

He obviously could not follow through with his original plan for Wakanda Forever. Chadwick Boseman passed away more than two years ago, in August 2020, before Wakanda Forever began production. The actor fought a quiet battle with cancer, choosing not to share details about his condition with the world.

As a result, Coogler found himself creating a sequel deprived of the main character, King T’Challa, who was also the Black Panther. “How do you carry on in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds?” is the question that drove Coogler after Boseman’s passing. The pandemic further complicated making any sort of film, not just MCU sequels.

Shuri (Letitia Wright) in the first Black Panther: Wakanda Forever trailer.
Shuri (Letitia Wright) in the first Black Panther: Wakanda Forever trailer. Image source: Marvel Studios

“Unfortunately, that question became more and more relevant,” Coogler told Empire. “Both for humanity as a whole, but also for the people in our production who were coming back for this one. It became super-relevant when we lost our bro.”

Without going into details about Wakanda Forever, Coogler explained that the initial sequel idea involving Boseman’s Black Panther was “spiritually very similar” to Wakanda Forever. But everything changed after that.

“Maturity is about being faced with impossible questions, and still making a choice and moving forward,” Coogler said, likening the rest of the Wakanda Forever cast to a band that just lost their lead singer. “So for me, it was like, ‘How do I figure out a song that they can still get up there and sing?’, in light of what we were dealing with.”

Who will be the next Black Panther?

Lupita Nyong’o, who plays Nakia in the Black Panther movies, shared her experience with Coogler’s process.

“I didn’t have doubts – I had dread,” Nyong’o told Empire. “Ryan had walked me through what the film was going to be when Chadwick was still alive. And so once we lost him, the thought that we could go on, it was just unfathomable to me.” 

The mysterious new Black Panther in Wakanda Forever's first trailer.
The mysterious new Black Panther in Wakanda Forever’s first trailer. Image source: Marvel Studios

But ultimately, Coogler impressed Nyong’o with the emotional direction of Wakanda Forever. “What Ryan ended up sharing with me was just so utterly truthful and beautiful. By the end of it, I was in tears,” she said.

After the Wakanda Forever trailer that Marvel showed at Comic-Con 2022, these teasers will make us want to see Black Panther 2 even more. Boseman’s tragic passing will cast a long shadow over the sequel, and we’ll learn more about what it meant to make this particular Marvel movie in the weeks to come.

Unfortunately, Black Panther fans shouldn’t expect any big reveals from the cast and crew beyond these teasers. You’ll have to see the movie to learn the identity of the MCU’s next Black Panther.

More Marvel coverage: For more MCU news, visit our Marvel guide.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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