It’s hard to overstate just how massive the first Black Panther was. Over a billion dollars at the box office. Marvel Studios’ first Best Picture nomination. A milestone in popular culture. And now, with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, co-writer and director Ryan Coogler has the not-so-simple task of doing it all over again.
“When we were in Atlanta making that first one back in 2017, we were in our own little bubble,” Coogler told io9. “So all of the pressure kind of felt like it was with us. And as we got closer to release, the anticipation and the size of people’s expectations started to become more present to the point that we became aware of it. But for a long time, it was kind of our little secret. The details of it, the tribes, what was going to happen, what the characters look like, what they were going to do. That was all our thing.”
That internal pressure shifted once the film came out. Audiences wanted to see more of these characters, more of this world, and Coogler felt the change immediately.
“[There] was a lot of pressure but not like once you released a film and you’re expected to follow it up,” he continued. “And what my co-writer Joe Robert Cole and Nate [Moore, producer] and I wanted to do - and we would talk with Chadwick [Boseman] about this as well in preparation for going off a second one - we wanted to make sure that we retained the qualities that made the first film unique, but also expanded the world and opened it up and really deliver something beautiful to the audiences. So that was our intention.”
Moore, who is back to produce the sequel, agrees there was massive pressure. “You certainly feel the pressure, just because the audience response was so powerful. to make sure that going back to Wakanda was as engaging as it was the first time around,” he told io9. “[But]...to have a movie hit in that way A) Surprised us and B) Oh man, how do we top that?”
On the topic of topping that, even though Wakanda Forever won’t open for another week, Moore did suggest he’d love Coogler to come back for a third film and that the team at Marvel has begun discussing it.
“That’s the million-dollar question,” Moore said when asked what it would take to get Coogler back. “Look, you never want to count your chickens before they hatch and the movie’s not out yet. Right now it’s like, let’s see how people respond to this film. But the hope is audiences demand that we make another one and certainly, there have been ideas thrown around. So we’ll see.”
Coogler, however, is not so sure. At least not yet. “I haven’t thought about it, to be honest,” he said when asked if he’d come back. “When it comes to writing and directing, I’m not the world’s greatest multitasker. I kind of got to do what is in front of me and be singular. When it comes to producing, I’m more geared up to be able to do multiple things. And to plan things, I’ve got a great production company and fantastic collaborators that can help move things along. But when it comes to writing, and in this case, co-writing and directing, I’ve got to finish what’s in front of me and then and then think of all that is happening after that.”
Maybe that’s Black Panther 3, or maybe it’s not, but either way, Coogler and Moore certainly have a better handle on that pressure after Wakanda Forever.
Black Panther Wakanda Forever opens November 11. We’ll have much, much more soon.
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