In Ryan Coogler’s upcoming “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” the eponymous nation is seen mourning the loss of T’Challa. The narrative mirrors the passing of franchise star Chadwick Boseman, but Coogler recently told Inverse that his original “Black Panther” sequel script similarly dealt with grief as its main theme. The sequel was set to feature Boseman reprising his role of T’Challa/Black Panther, but the script had to be overhauled following Boseman’s death in August 2020 from colon cancer.
“The tonal shift, I will say, was less of a shift than in [casting],” Coogler said in what may come as a surprise to fans. The version of “Black Panther 2” that stars Boseman would’ve focused on his character mourning the loss of time due to “The Blip” that took place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. T’Challa was one of several superheroes who perished at the end of “Avengers: Infinity War” due to Thanos’ snap, only to be brought back in “Endgame.”
“The tone was going to be similar,” Coogler said of his original sequel script. “The character was going to be grieving the loss of time, you know, coming back after being gone for five years. As a man with so much responsibility to so many, coming back after a forced five years absence, that’s what the film was tackling. He was grieving time he couldn’t get back. Grief was a big part of it.”
Boseman’s passing changed the central narrative, but the theme of grief persisted. As Coogler said, “Who the protagonist was, the flaws of the protagonist, what the protagonist was dealing with in their journey, all of that stuff had to be different due to us losing him and the decisions that we made about moving forward.”
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” features returning actors Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira Winston Duke, Martin Freeman and Angela Bassett. It also features franchise newcomers Dominique Thorne, Michaela Coel and Tenoch Huerta as the villain Namor. The film opens in theaters Nov. 11 from Disney.