Quentin Tarantino recently made headlines for saying Marvel movie directors are essentially “hired hands,” meaning they don’t get to bring their own imaginations to the projects they work on. But when the teaser for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever premiered earlier this year and proudly displayed Ryan Coogler’s name (something that almost never happens in MCU trailers), this felt like the studio’s way of declaring that without his unique sensibilities guiding the ship, the film would have fallen apart at the seams.
The cast and crew have spoken at length about how making the sequel without Chadwick Boseman was a bittersweet experience. However, a new featurette reveals that Coogler’s vision for Wakanda’s next chapter served as their north star during filming.
Most of Wakanda Forever’s major players worked with Coogler on the original Black Panther in 2018. So they were already familiar with his “big heart” (as Angela Bassett describes it) and storytelling abilities. And naturally, they shared his passion and commitment to keep the franchise alive in a way that continues to celebrate Black culture. But as Lupita Nyong’o notes, Coogler went “a step further” by honoring Mesoamerican culture as well through the introduction of Tenoch Huerta’s Namor.
“Ryan is an artist,” said Huerta. “He has the heart to listen to you, to look in your eyes and go deep. Not just in the story, but in your soul.”
Huerta isn’t the only new addition to the cast who appreciated Coogler’s down-to-earth approach. Dominique Thorne (Riri Williams) noted that his “understanding of people” is what makes the film so special. Producer Nate Moore echoed these remarks, adding that Coogler “excels” at taking a fantastical premise and infusing it with humanity. And in the long run, this is what Coogler hopes audiences take away from the finished product.
“Above all, it is a relationship movie,” said Coogler. “We’ll have some incredible set pieces, but at the end of the day, I think what people are going to really remember is the conversations. How do you move forward after losing someone that meant so much to you? You have to continue their legacy.”
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever opens this Friday, November 11.
Are you excited to see if Coogler’s hard work paid off this week? Let us know in the comment section below!
Recommended Reading: Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet Book 1
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