Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a 2022 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character Black Panther. Produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, it is the sequel to Black Panther (2018) and the 30th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Directed by Ryan Coogler, who co-wrote the screenplay with Joe Robert Cole, the film stars Letitia Wright as Shuri / Black Panther, alongside Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Winston Duke, Florence Kasumba, Dominique Thorne, Michaela Coel, Tenoch Huerta Mejía, Martin Freeman, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Angela Bassett. In the film, the leaders of Wakanda fight to protect their nation in the wake of King T’Challa’s death.
Ideas for a sequel began after the release of Black Panther in February 2018. Coogler negotiated to return as director in the following months, and Marvel Studios officially confirmed the sequel’s development in mid-2019. Plans for the film changed in August 2020 when Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman died from colon cancer, with Marvel choosing not to recast his role of T’Challa. The return of other main cast members from the first film was confirmed that November, and the title was announced in May 2021. Filming began in late June 2021 in Atlanta, taking place at both Trilith Studios and Tyler Perry Studios, before moving to Massachusetts in August, but was halted in November to allow Wright to recover from an injury sustained during filming. It resumed by mid-January 2022 and wrapped in late March in Puerto Rico.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever premiered at the El Capitan Theatre and the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, on October 26, 2022, and was released in the United States on November 11, 2022, as the final film in Phase Four of the MCU. The film received generally positive reviews from critics and has grossed over $841 million worldwide, becoming the sixth highest-grossing film of 2022. Bassett’s performance in particular drew widespread critical acclaim, and she won Best Supporting Actress at the 80th Golden Globe Awards and 28th Critics Choice Awards. She also earned nominations at the 76th British Academy Film Awards and 95th Academy Awards, while the film received four other Academy Award nominations.
With the release of Black Panther in February 2018, producer Kevin Feige said there were “many, many stories” to tell about the character, and he wanted director and co-writer Ryan Coogler to return for any sequel; Marvel Studios wanted to keep the creative team as intact as possible, while Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan F. Horn, despite feeling it was too early to discuss a sequel, was also positive about the desire to have Coogler return as director. Coogler wanted to see how Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa / Black Panther would grow as a king in future films since his reign only recently began in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in contrast to the comics in which he had been king since childhood. In March 2018, Feige said there was nothing specific to reveal about a sequel, but Marvel had ideas and a “pretty solid direction” on where they wanted to take a second film. That month, Boseman’s agent Michael Greene was in negotiations for the actor to return as T’Challa in two planned Black Panther sequels for a reported pay of $10 million and $20 million, respectively. By October, Coogler had closed a deal to write and direct a sequel to Black Panther. Despite both Marvel and Coogler having always intended to work together again after the first film’s success, Coogler avoided rushing into a deal. Negotiations with Coogler were completed “under the radar” in the months following the first film’s release. He was expected to begin writing the sequel in 2019, ahead of a planned filming start in late 2019 or early 2020.
In November 2018, Letitia Wright was confirmed to be reprising her role of T’Challa’s sister Shuri for the sequel. When Angela Bassett, who played Ramonda in Black Panther, was asked if the main cast would return for the sequel, her husband Courtney B. Vance said they would. He said this included Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger, who was killed in the first film, and Bassett agreed. Feige dismissed Vance’s statement in June 2019 as “pure rumor”, saying there were no set plans for the film as Coogler had just begun outlining it and had not yet shared his plans with Feige or co-producer Nate Moore. The next month, John Kani expressed interest in reprising his role as T’Challa’s father T’Chaka in the film, and Danai Gurira stated that Coogler had confirmed she would be reprising her role of Okoye in the sequel. Feige confirmed the sequel’s development at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con, while Martin Freeman confirmed in August that he would reprise his role as Everett K. Ross in the sequel. A release date of May 6, 2022, was announced at D23 along with the placeholder title Black Panther II. Feige said Coogler had completed a script treatment for the film that included a villain and new title. At the end of 2019, Ruth E. Carter confirmed that she would be returning from the first film as costume designer for the sequel, and said that she was set to begin work on it in “the fall”. Feige, Boseman, and Coogler discussed adapting elements of Boseman’s more “Gung ho” T’Challa performance in the second episode of What If…? for the film.
On August 28, 2020, Boseman died from colon cancer. Coogler stated that he had been unaware of Boseman’s illness, and had spent the last year “preparing, imagining and writing words for him to say [in the film] that we weren’t destined to see”. Feige and other executives at Marvel Studios were also unaware of Boseman’s illness. Boseman, who had become thinner from his illness in the weeks prior to his death, had been prepared to begin gaining the weight back in September 2020 ahead of filming the sequel in March 2021. According to The Hollywood Reporter, industry observers felt Disney could recast the role, but that might generate a “fan outcry” and prompt comparisons between actors. Another suggestion was for Disney to shift their plans and have Shuri take on the mantle of the Black Panther, which occurred in the comic books. By the time of Boseman’s death, Coogler was in the middle of writing the script and had already turned in a draft. In mid-November, executive producer Victoria Alonso said a digital double of Boseman would not be created for the film, and added that Marvel was taking their time to work out what they were going to do next and how. Later in the month, Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, and Bassett were confirmed to be reprising their roles for the sequel as Nakia, M’Baku, and Ramonda, respectively, while Tenoch Huerta was in talks for an antagonist role. At that time, filming was expected to begin in June or July 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia.
In December 2020, the film’s release date was moved back to July 8, 2022. Feige also confirmed that the role of T’Challa would not be recast, and said the sequel would explore the world and characters of the first film as a way to honor the legacy that Boseman helped build. He would later reaffirm that visual effects would not be used to include Boseman in the film, and also said it “felt like it was much too soon to recast” noting how the world outside and within the MCU was still processing the loss of Boseman. By the end of the month, Boseman’s makeup designer Siân Richards was set to return for the sequel, while his personal costumer Craig Anthony said he would not commit to the film due to Boseman’s death. Hair designer Deidra Dixon was unsure if she would return following Boseman’s death, as well as the death of her sister. Feige said in January 2021 that the primary focus of the sequel was always about further exploring the characters and “different subcultures” of Wakanda. That same month, Jordan said he was willing to reprise his role as Killmonger as he felt returning to the MCU would “always be on the table in some capacity” due to his love for the character and for working with Coogler. In February, Daniel Kaluuya said he was unsure if he would reprise his role of W’Kabi; he ultimately did not due to scheduling conflicts with the film Nope (2022).
- Letitia Wright as Shuri / Black Panther:
The princess of Wakanda who designs new technology for the nation. Wright was given a larger role in the film following the death of Chadwick Boseman, who starred in previous MCU media as Shuri’s older brother T’Challa / Black Panther. Wright said Shuri turns to her technology as a way to grieve T’Challa.
- Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia:
A former War Dog, an undercover spy for Wakanda, from the River Tribe. Nyong’o said Nakia has “matured” following both the Blip and the death of T’Challa, explaining that her character’s “priorities have shifted and sharpened” while adding that Nakia still remains “the one you want to call when you’re in trouble”.
- Danai Gurira as Okoye:
The general of the Dora Milaje, Wakanda’s all-female special forces. Okoye later takes on the mantle of the Midnight Angels, along with Aneka. It is revealed in the film that Okoye’s husband, W’Kabi, was imprisoned following the events of Black Panther (2018). Gurira said the film would explore “many facets” of Okoye’s humanity.
- Winston Duke as M’Baku:
A powerful warrior and leader of Wakanda’s mountain tribe, the Jabari. Duke indicated that following the Jabari’s involvement in the events of Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019), the tribe is no longer isolated from the rest of Wakanda. He also felt M’Baku was trying to figure “out how to move forward” in this new world for Wakanda, much like many in the real world were trying to do in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Florence Kasumba as Ayo: A member and the second-in-command who later becomes the general of the Dora Milaje after Okoye is stripped of her duties. She is romantically involved with Aneka.
- Dominique Thorne as Riri Williams:
An MIT student and genius inventor from Chicago who creates a suit of armor that rivals the one built by Tony Stark / Iron Man. Director Ryan Coogler noted that Williams is a foil to Shuri, adding “there’s a thread of similarity” between the two, but are “also very, very different”, with Williams and Shuri’s relationship representing a similar exploration of the “diversity of the Black experience” as T’Challa and Killmonger’s relationship did in Black Panther.
- Michaela Coel as Aneka:
A Wakandan warrior and member of the Dora Milaje. Aneka later takes upon the mantle of the Midnight Angels, along with Okoye. Aneka is romantically involved with Ayo. Coel was drawn to the character being queer as in the comics, and Coogler described Aneka as “kind of a rebel”.
- Tenoch Huerta Mejía as Namor:
The king of Talokan, an ancient civilization of underwater dwelling people, who refer to him as the feathered serpent god K’uk’ulkan. Huerta said Namor decides to get involved in the surface world after T’Challa publicly reveals the truth of Wakanda at the end of the first film, which consequently puts Talokan in “jeopardy”, leading Namor and his people to “take action to protect themselves”. Huerta also confirmed that the character is a mutant as in the comics. Huerta called Namor an anti-hero, explaining that it was important to both him and Coogler to humanize the character by making his motivations understandable despite him having an antagonistic role in the film. Coogler was enthused to include Namor’s “really unique features” from the comics, including his ankle wings and pointy ears. He also described the character as “kind of an asshole, kind of romantic, and just incredibly powerful”. Huerta learned a Mayan language for the role, as well as how to swim.
- Martin Freeman as Everett K. Ross: An agent of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) who has previous ties to Wakanda.
- Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Valentina Allegra de Fontaine: The new director of the CIA and the ex-wife of Ross.
- Angela Bassett as Ramonda:
The Sovereign Queen Mother of Wakanda who is grieving the death of her son T’Challa. Bassett explained that Ramonda would be trying to balance leading her people, being a mother to Shuri, and keeping threats to Wakanda “at bay”, all while grieving the death of T’Challa, which is “a lot for her to handle”. While Bassett was initially unhappy with Ramonda being killed off in the film, Coogler reassured her that death is not necessarily permanent in the MCU, and she felt that it was possible for her character to return in the future, similar to how people were brought back to life following the Blip in Endgame.
Additionally, Michael B. Jordan reprises his MCU role as N’Jadaka / Erik “Killmonger” Stevens, T’Challa and Shuri’s cousin. Returning from Black Panther are Isaach de Bankolé, Dorothy Steel (in her final, posthumous role), and Danny Sapani as the Wakandan River Tribe, Merchant Tribe, and Border Tribe elders, respectively, with Connie Chiume reprising her role as Zawavari, previously the Mining Tribe Elder, but now the Elder Statesman, taking over the role held by Zuri in the first film; comedian Trevor Noah also reprises his role as Shuri’s A.I. Griot. Mabel Cadena portrays Namor’s cousin Namora, while Alex Livinalli portrays the Talokanil warrior Attuma, and María Mercedes Coroy portrays Princess Fen, Namor’s mother. Lake Bell (who previously voiced Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow in Marvel Studios’ animated series What If…?) and Robert John Burke appear as Dr. Graham and Smitty, respectively, a pair of CIA officials in charge of the vibranium mining operation. Richard Schiff appears as the U.S. Secretary of State, while Kamaru Usman appears as a naval officer. Archive footage from previous MCU films of Boseman as T’Challa / Black Panther is used in the film’s ending, with Divine Love Konadu-Sun appearing as Toussaint/T’Challa II, T’Challa and Nakia’s son. CNN news anchor Anderson Cooper appears as himself.
November 11, 2022
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