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SYFY WIRE Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Ryan Coogler: Chadwick Boseman’s ’Black Panther’ sequel would have been ‘a father-son story’

Before it became ‘Wakanda Forever,’ T’Challa’s second movie was shaping up as a post-Blip family reunion.

By Benjamin Bullard

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has been a huge box office success, but without its original star, the critically-acclaimed meditation on loss is a very different superhero movie than the one Marvel originally had in mind.

At the time Chadwick Boseman (King T’Challa aka Black Panther) passed away in August of 2020, director Ryan Coogler and co-screenwriter Joe Robert Cole already had completed an early draft of the script for a sequel that, of course, held no future in the wake of Boseman’s tragic and untimely death. In a recent talk with The New York Times, the writing duo explained how the second Black Panther would have looked with Boseman back in the leading role, and the inclusion of Tenoch Huerta as main villain Namor — though in a reconfigured role — is just about the only story beat that would’ve remained unchanged between Wakanda Forever and the sequel that MCU fans sadly never got to see.

The original sequel script was a story that would have heavily focused on bridging the post-Blip gap between T’Challa (whom Thanos snapped out of existence at the end of Avengers: Infinity War) and his son Toussaint (played by Divine Love Konadu-Sun), whom Wakanda Forever instead introduces only in the movie’s post-credits scene.

“It was, ‘What are we going to do about the Blip?’” said Coogler. “That was the challenge. It was absolutely nothing like what we made. It was going to be a father-son story from the perspective of a father, because the first movie had been a father-son story from the perspective of the sons.

“…In the script, T’Challa was a dad who’d had this forced five-year absence from his son’s life. The first scene was an animated sequence. You hear Nakia [Lupita Nyong’o] talking to Toussaint. She says, ‘Tell me what you know about your father.’ You realize that he doesn’t know his dad was the Black Panther. He’s never met him, and 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, Black Panther 2 would have skipped ahead three years, pairing T’Challa and Toussaint on a traditional father-son pilgrimage in the Wakandan wilderness; one that would’ve taken a sideways superhero-movie turn thanks to bigger outside events.

“We had some crazy scenes in there for Chad, man,” said Coogler. “Our code name for the movie was ‘Summer Break,’ and the movie was about a summer that the kid spends with his dad. For his eighth birthday, they do a ritual where they go out into the bush and have to live off the land. But something happens and T’Challa has to go save the world with his son on his hip. That was the movie.”

In Wakanda Forever, T’Challa’s sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) steps up to an even bigger role in the nation’s proud political structure, after grappling with the tragedy of being unable to save her brother from a life-ending illness. Coogler said it was key that the movie force her into facing down her own inner demons before taking up King T’Challa’s mantle, because it drove her transformation into the new Black Panther in a way no outside-enemy conflict ever could. “If somebody else would’ve taken T’Challa out,” the director explained, “Shuri would’ve looked for that person. We wanted it to be a situation where the only place to go was internal.”

Wakanda Forever debuted in theaters on Nov. 11, which means the movie’s currently entering the latter phase of its big-time box office run. Marvel and Disney haven’t yet revealed when the film might eventually make its streaming premiere (presumably at Disney+), so for now, the surest way to catch the sequel remains on the big screen. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is still playing in tons of theaters nationwide.

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