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SYFY WIRE Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

'Black Panther' producer on connections between 'Black Widow' and 'Wakanda Forever'

We caught up with Marvel Studios' Kyana Davidson at Funko's new Black Panther Activation.

By Tara Bennett
Funko Hollywood Black Panther Wakanda Forever Event

Celebrating the box office success of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever last weekend, Funko welcomed press (including SYFY WIRE) to see their new Pop! and Loungefly accessories that capture the design and characters of the new movie. They also welcomed Kyana Davidson, Director of Production Development at Marvel Studios and an Associate Producer on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, who spoke about how the studio has embraced telling stories about grief, and characters finding their way through big life moments via genre.

"I worked on Black Widow and that was such an interesting movie to work on because it was a spy thriller. At its core, it was about Natasha getting to be reintroduced into her spy family and getting to tackle her past. I think [Wakanda Forever] had to tackle a huge emotional tribute," Davidson said of addressing the real loss of actor Chadwick Boseman, as well as the character of T'Challa. "At its core, it had to deal with grief, which was something that a lot of people can relate to. I think the two movies are very different in their own right but both really powerful."

Funko Hollywood Black Panther Wakanda Forever Event

Davidson also spoke to the three Black Panther: Wakanda Forever costumes that are now on display at Funko Hollywood featuring Attuma (Alex Livinalli), Aneka (Michaela Coel) and Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne).

"Something that we do at Marvel is we work really closely with the Visual Development team led by Ryan Meinerding. He and his team bring the publishing to life," she said. "And that's what you see with with Aneka paying homage to the Midnight Angel from what we see in the comics. He works hand-in-hand with Ruth Carter, who we brought back from the first film. She really just dug into what the culture of both of these worlds are. The attention to detail in these costumes goes such a long way because it really tells the story of each character, and we have characters from all walks of life."

RELATED: 'Wakanda Forever' demonstrates the power and limitations of live-action superhero stories

Funko Hollywood Black Panther Wakanda Forever Event

Also riffing off the Wakanda design aesthetic is Dom Battle-Baber, the Loungefly designer who helped create the new Black Panther bag that honors Boseman's Panther suit. Based on her geometric, origami design, Battle-Baber tells SYFY WIRE that she came up with the concept for a prior bag that never happened.

"When they were talking about doing a [Black Panther] figural backpack, I was like, 'I want to try this for that. If it's possible and I can make it work. Can we do it?'" she said. "And we ended up working it into the collection, which is really amazing. I'm a big Black Panther fan, a big Chadwick Boseman fans. All of these things that went into that, it's very moving to be able to be a part of it."

Funko Hollywood Black Panther Wakanda Forever Event

With regards to filming Wakanda Forever, Davidson also shared the story of filming the pivotal confrontation between Talokan's King Namor (Tenoch Huerta) and Wakanda's Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) in Puerto Rico, which doubled for onscreen Madagascar.

"That was something that we had always envisioned and seeing it on the day was pretty spectacular. But what you don't see on camera is that all of us had our pants rolled up, knee deep in water, trying to get the tide right, and make sure that we weren't going to be washed away," she laughed. "It was one of my favorite memories, just because we had talked about that so much. And actually seeing it there and making sure the lighting was right, and making sure the water was right, and behaved, was pretty amazing."

Funko Hollywood Black Panther Wakanda Forever Event

As for the future of the Black Panther franchise, Davidson said she couldn't say. But she is thrilled for the 2023 Disney+ series Ironheart to carry on Riri Williams' story.

"She's so funny and so amazing. She's a brilliant scientist from MIT," Davidson said of the character. "And her story is going to be continuing in a series next year, so I'm really excited about."

The Funko Black Panther Activation runs from Nov. 16 through Nov. 28 at its Hollywood Store.

Looking for more superhero action? Stream Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider, and more on Peacock right now.