Listen to this article here
The abrupt death of superstar actor Chadwick Boseman in August 2020 was stunning to the world at large and his absence has been continuously felt by the cast and crew of “Black Panther 2,” which is set the November 11.
They have had to carry the grief of losing Boseman with them to set each day while filming the highly anticipated sequel and Boseman’s friend and “Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler told Entertainment Weekly (EW) that the unexpected tragedy shook him to his very core.
The 36-year-old Oscar-winning filmmaker had begun working on what would become the forthcoming sequel, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” when he initially learned of Boseman’s death.
“I was at a point when I was like, ‘I’m walking away from this business,’” he admitted to EW. “I didn’t know if I could make another movie period, [let alone] another Black Panther movie, because it hurt a lot. I was like, ‘Man, how could I open myself up to feeling like this again?’”
In the days and weeks following Boseman’s death, Coogler started replaying memories in his head. He would rewatch old footage of himself with Boseman, or he’d listen to interviews where his friend would speak about what the character of T’Challa and Wakanda meant to him.
The actor had always been a fierce advocate for the film, and as Coogler listened to Boseman’s words, he found himself thinking about the future again. “I was poring over a lot of our conversations that we had, towards what I realized was the end of his life,” the director explains. “I decided that it made more sense to keep going.”
“The movie is very much about how you move forward while dealing with a tragic loss,” explains producer Nate Moore. “All of the characters, both old and new, are dealing with how loss can affect your actions in ways that are emotional and surprising.”
The loss of T’Challa also means that a new hero will don the claws and carry on the Black Panther mantle. A new trailer, released today, teases the first look at the new Panther suit — which appears to be worn by a woman.
In “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” the kingdom of Wakanda will mourn the death of Boseman’s King T’Challa, just as the cast and crew had to move on without their friend and leading man.
Coogler and Marvel have said many times that they never considered recasting T’Challa with another actor. Instead, Coogler’s hope is that Wakanda Forever will carry on Boseman’s legacy by expanding it with an entirely new story.