Ryan Coogler’s original Black Panther: Wakanda Forever script still contained grief. But instead of mourning the complete loss of King T’Challah in the untimely death of actor Chadwick Boseman, she focused on T’Challah’s time lost in the five-year hiatus.
“The tonal shift, I will say, was less of a shift than in [casting]'” Coogler said in an interview with Inverse.
T’Challah disappeared during “The Blip” brought over half the world’s population by Thanos, and had Bosman lived to reprise his role as the Black Panther, Coogler envisioned the King of Wakanda following his absence during ” The Blip” would reach for a return to normal.”
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“The tone should be similar,” Coogler said. “The character would mourn the loss of time, you know, coming back after being gone for five years. As a man with so much responsibility for so many, returning after an enforced five-year absence, that’s what the film tackles. He mourned the time he couldn’t get back. Grief was a big part of it.”
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was rewritten after Boseman’s death – after which Feige explained that there would be no recast of the character as it was far too soon. Coogler worked with co-writer Joe Robert Cole to overhaul the plot and protagonist. Namor the Submariner (Tenoch Huerta) remained the antagonist.
“There were certainly other characters that we considered,” said Coogler. “Namor was always there.”
Listen to Rihanna’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever song “Lift Me Up” (Audio)
The final version of the film begins with T’Challa’s death on screen, mirroring Bosman’s death leading to the destruction of the Kingdom of Wakanda – including T’Challah’s mother Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) and his shrewd scientist sister Shuri ( Letitia Wright) – the mission remains committed to protecting the remote nation’s priceless supply of Vibranium from outside threats.
The story goes on
Enter Namor, who emerges from the depths in the sequel and finds Wakanda at war with Namor’s underwater kingdom, Talokan. “Wakanda Forever” seeks a new Black Panther to wear the mantle while also paying homage to the legacy Boseman left.
“Who the protagonist was, the protagonist’s flaws, what the protagonist dealt with in their journey,” Coogler said. “All of those things had to be different because we lost him and the choices we made to move forward.”
Watch the music video for Rihanna’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever song “Lift Me Up.”
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hits theaters on November 11th.