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How 'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever' leans into the 'weird stuff' like Namor's high-flying ankle wings
"You've got to lean into the weird stuff, or you risk missing what makes it fun."
While Black Panther: Wakanda Forever makes some notable changes to the character of Namor (Tenoch Huerta) in terms of both look and origin, director and co-writer Ryan Coogler made sure to stay true to the source material by keeping the Sub-Mariner's iconic ankle wings intact. Because why the hell not?!
"I think with making these types of movies, you've got to lean into the weird stuff, or you risk missing what makes it fun," the filmmaker explained to Entertainment Weekly while breaking down the latest trailer, which prominently features aquatic royal's preferred mode of levitation. "He's got really unique features and things that don't necessarily go together. He can breathe underwater, obviously, but he's got these little wings on his ankles. He's got pointy ears and walks around in his underwear."
In addition to Namor, the sequel also introduces a new face in the form of Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne), who will eventually take center stage in her own Marvel Cinematic Universe series on Disney+, Ironheart. A gifted young inventor from the United States, Riri takes on the role of audience proxy and serves as a counterpoint to the technologically savvy Princess Shuri (Letitia Wright). While it's still unclear how Ms. Williams ends up in Wakanda, our best guess is that she's studying/working there as part of some exchange program following King T'Challa's decision to begin sharing his country's secrets with the rest of the world.
"The film deals with a lot of things, but one of them is foils — people who exist in contrast, but there's a thread of similarity," Coogler said. "In this film, we get to see Shuri meet someone who has some things in common with her, but is also very, very different."
Following the untimely passing of Chadwick Boseman in 2020, Coogler and his co-screenwriter, Joe Robert Cole, reworked the script to acknowledge the actor's death within the world of the MCU. As Wakanda mourns the loss of its king and protector, the rest of the world starts plotting, hoping to take advantage of the nation's weakened status on the geopolitical stage. A profound sense of grief infuses every aspect of the sequel, particularly the cinematography of Autumn Durald Arkapaw (Loki).
"I think this film has the fog of loss over it, and anamorphic lenses warp the image a little bit. Sometimes when you go through profound loss, it can warp how you look at the world," Coogler concluded. v"What we were after was just making it feel tactile, even though it felt like a dream. The film should feel like a really wild dream that you would have, but where everything felt like it was really there."
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever arrives in theaters everywhere Friday, Nov. 11. Tickets are now on sale.
Looking for more sci-fi content? Check out shows like Resident Alien, Brave New World, Project Blue Book, Eureka, Heroes, Intergalactic, and more streaming now on Peacock.