About seven or eight weeks ago, Martin Freeman had a Zoom conversation with writer/director Ryan Coogler, who walked the actor through the plot of next summer's Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. During a guest appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden this week, Freeman — who is returning to play Everett K. Ross of the CIA — recounted his unexpected reaction.
"He meticulously took me through the film, but incorporating my character's beats. Some of it was very odd and he could see by the reaction on my face [from] some of the things he was saying. My face must've been going..." Freeman said, emulating a slack-jawed expression filled with confusion. "Because he kept stopping and ... saying, 'Stay with me, this is gonna work.' ... I mean, we've not done it yet. Who knows? We might make it awful. But I'm hoping we won't and I hope people are gonna be in for a treat."
Check out the full interview below (the Black Panther content begins around 3:20):
Most unfortunately, the sequel will be devoid of Chadwick Boseman (King T'Challa), who passed away last August at the age of 43 from complications relating to colon cancer. While Marvel Studios decided not to cancel the project, they did promise fans that Boseman's character would not be recast or resurrected with digital trickery. It's unclear what the plot will be about, but many have speculated that T'Challa's younger sister, Shuri (played onscreen by Letitia Wright) might step into the role of Wakanda's ancient protector like she does in the comics. There are also theories that Wakanda may come into conflict with the underwater kingdom ruled by Namor the Sub-Mariner.
"Obviously, it's a very strange thing," Freeman continued. "When Chadwick passed last year, after the initial shock of that — and it was just an appalling thing to find out — the next thing was, 'Ok, I guess we're not doing that film.' So, Marvel came to us reasonably shortly afterwards and said, 'Look, obviously, this is a dreadful thing, but we're gonna go on. That was the plan from a while ago. Obviously, the hope is that we do the first film justice and we do Chadwick's legacy on it justice and make it another good film."
Speaking on the Jemele Hill Is Unbothered podcast earlier this month, Coogler said that moving forward on the production without Boseman is "one of the most profound things I've ever gone through in my life, having to be a part of keeping this project going without this particular person."
"It feels spiritually and emotionally correct to do this," cast member Lupita Nyong’o (she's reprising the role of Nakia, T'Challa's close friend and confidant) recently explained to Yahoo!. "And hopefully, what I do look forward to, is getting back together and honoring what he started with us and holding his light through it. Because he left us a lot of light that we’re still going to be bathing in. I know that for sure.”
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever claws its way into theaters on July 8, 2022. Filming is expected to kick off this July.