The cast and crew of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever spent months being fairly direct about their feelings on continuing the film without original leading man Chadwick Boseman, and more vaguely about what the sequel would’ve been like had he not unexpectedly passed in 2020. Even as the film has become a pretty solid hit at the box office and seems poised to go for awards gold like the first movie did, the question of what could’ve been hovers around the final product. The 2022 film was previously said to have been “spiritually similar” to the original pitch, and understandably, no one involved has expanded on that.
In a recent interview with the New York Times, director Ryan Coogler and co-writer Joe Robert Cole talked about their initial pitch for Wakanda Forever, and it does sound thematically in line with what’s currently in theaters. But before we get into that, we’ll need this...
Coogler has, in the past, talked about how Wakanda Forever would’ve initially focused on T’Challa feeling a sense of loss after being blipped out of existence in Avengers: Infinity War and then five years later in Avengers: Endgame. That sense of displacement would’ve been the key theme of the film, emphasized upon him learning that his lover Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) had a son during that five-year timeskip. We meet Toussaint (also known as T’Challa II) in the closing moments of Wakanda Forever, as played by Divine Love Konadu-Sun, but he originally had a much greater role in the sequel.
“It was going to be a father-son story from the perspective of the father,” said Coogler. “The first movie had been a father-son story from the perspective of the sons.” Similar to the first film, the opening scene would’ve been an animated sequence wherein Nakia asks Toussaint to tell her what he knows about his father, and the audience learns that Toussaint doesn’t know his father was the Black Panther. “Nakia is remarried to a Haitian dude. Then, we cut to reality and it’s the night that everybody comes back from the Blip. You see T’Challa meet the kid for the first time.”
From there, continued Coogler, we would’ve seen T’Challa co-parent Toussaint with Nakia over the next three years, including a sequence where the two spent Toussaint’s eighth birthday by living off the land of Wakanda. T’Challa would’ve had to have saved the world with his son in tow. Namor (Tenoch Huerta Mejjia) was still intended as the antagonist, but he would’ve been one of the chief villains; Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfuss) would’ve been the second. “It was basically a three-way conflict between Wakanda, the U.S. and Talokan. But it was all mostly from the child’s perspective.”
With how much the Black Panther movies (and Coogler’s filmography) are rooted in the idea of legacy and fatherhood, it’s perhaps not too surprising to learn that throughline would’ve continued for the sequel. Even so, you can’t help but wonder what that kind of movie would’ve been like—not only because Marvel movies have placed such an emphasis on its lead characters having families of their own, but also for how Coogler and Cole’s take on father-son stories would’ve differed from what we usually get in that regard.
[via The Hollywood Reporter]
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