One of the bittersweet things about seeing Black Panther is realizing that the movie being shown in theaters isn’t the long-rumored four hour-long cut Ryan Coogler is said to have submitted to Marvel at one point. But there’s at least one scene we really would have liked to have seen included.
It isn’t uncommon for these kinds of movies to go through extensive edits, but with a movie as densely-packed with sumptuous scenes as Black Panther, you can’t help but wonder just what all was ultimately left on the cutting room floor. During a recent interview with Empire, Black Panther executive producer Nate Moore discussed a number of key moments that were either written and/or shot but didn’t make it into the film and there’s one in particular that both he and Coogler fought before agreeing to let go in order to keep Black Panther’s pacing tight.
The relationship between Okoye and W’Kabi is one of Black Panther’s more understated narrative elements, but it plays a somewhat key role in the movie’s penultimate battle between the Dora Milaje and the Border Tribe who’ve pledged their allegiance to Erik Killmonger.
According to Moore, at one point in the movie, there’s a scene before the battle in which Okoye and W’Kabi discuss their conflicting views about the Wakandan usurper that would have both emphasized their relationship and foreshadowed their showdown. He said on Empire’s podcast:
So in the film it is more than hinted at that they’re a couple, but there is a scene directly after Killmonger takes the throne where you hear both characters articulate their point of view as to why they should or shouldn’t follow this man and it’s one of the most well-acted scenes I’ve ever been a part of.
Unfortunately it occurred at a point in the movie where audiences just wanted to get to the resolution and so it slowed down a part of the movie and we were afraid audiences were checking out. We were also afraid if we took it out we’re going to ruin this movie—‘guys we’re going to ruin this movie; let’s not take it out.’ We didn’t take it out for three or four screenings and we finally took it out and I think Ryan and I were probably the last men on that beach saying don’t take it out.”
As disappointing as it may be to know that one of the most well-acted scenes of the movie was axed, Moore also added that it will be a part of Black Panther’s extras when the movie’s released on DVD at some point in the future. But until then we’ll just have to make due with watching the (still phenomenal) movie as is.