When a person loses a loved one, you never quite get over it. But, eventually, you do have to move forward. And that was one of the many dilemmas the cast and crew of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever had. What do you do in a sequel to a movie whose star, Chadwick Boseman, tragically died? Do you recast the role? Do you even make the movie?
io9 spoke with Wakanda Forever producer Nate Moore, who said those conversations happened—but that Marvel probably would have canceled the movie entirely before actually recasting Boseman’s role as T’Challa. He, along with co-writer and director Ryan Coogler, told us how the biggest challenge of the movie was keeping the balance between being respectful about the character’s passing, and also a fun action film. Watch a video of the filmmakers below, followed by the rest of the article.
“[Chadwick’s] passing was sudden. It hit us really hard,” Moore told io9. “And you do have the thought of maybe we should just stop. Certainly, sequels aren’t a mandate. Many movies have existed as one-offs and they’re fantastic. Maybe Black Panther just lives on its own bubble. And then you start to have the other conversation, which is it did mean so much to people. And... even Chad, I think, knew it could mean as much as it did to people while we were making the first one.”
“So then it was the conversation of, ‘Okay, if we’re going to do it, how do we do it respectfully,’” Moore continued. “How do we do it in a way where we as storytellers also can get behind it and spend the next two-plus years of our lives bringing something to life that we believe in? That doesn’t leave a bad taste in our mouths? And that’s why recasting was never really a consideration, to be honest. Let’s use this energy and tell a story that could honestly help us in the healing process, and potentially help audiences when they watch it kind of come to grips with what happened, and also see a path forward, and also see that it’s not just about the loss, it’s about transformation and renewal.”
All of which sounds very sincere and lovely but, don’t forget, this is Marvel Studios, a company known for making some of the most elaborate sci-fi action films ever. How could Black Panther: Wakanda Forever balance that action with the story of loss?
“That was the work, actually,” Coogler told io9. “Trying to figure out a way that the theme could be dealt with and simultaneously ever-present while delivering upon what we wanted to deliver on, which is a heart-racing geopolitical thriller slash action movie. We wanted it to be those things, but also work as a believable drama, a believable character study about the concept of loss and how complicated it is to navigate among other things.”
The director explained that in every phase of production, the idea of the movie being both of those things was on everyone’s mind. “That was the work... during the writing phase and the work that the actors and I did doing during the production phase and all the other crew and even down to the editing,” Coogler said. “Just trying to make sure we struck the right balance. The whole process was always a balancing act. It was always intentional that the film could check all those boxes, so to speak.”
Black Panther Wakanda Forever opens in theaters November 11.
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