Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has to be one of the most highly-anticipated Marvel movies, if not the most anticipated.
Creating a sequel to one of the most culturally significant superhero movies of all time was never going to be easy, and the film faced its fair share of obstacles throughout production, not the least of which included a global pandemic and the tragic loss of leading actor, Chadwick Boseman. However, the sequel has managed to come out the other side with an important message on legacy and grief.
In an interview with Lifehacker Australia, Marvel Studios VP Nate Moore elaborated on some of the challenges that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever faced and why it’s the perfect capstone to Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever follows Shuri, Queen Ramonda, Okoye and the other Wakandans in the wake of King T’Challa’s death, as they fight to protect their nation from intervening powers.
The Black Panther sequel expands upon the rich world that was built in the first movie, taking audiences to the undersea nation of Talokan. The prospect of filming underwater was a big hurdle for the sequel, but an important one to overcome, according to its producer.
“I mean, shooting as much underwater footage as we did was a real challenge. It’s a challenge for the performers, right? They have to learn how to not only hold their breath underwater for minutes at a time but also perform,” Moore said. “And practically, shooting underwater takes more time. You have to build tanks. Like there’s a cost and a logistical challenge to that.”
Moore added that filming underwater was an important component to “anchor [the movie] in reality”:
“Without that it can become a little bit too graphic; a little bit too comic-booky, and that’s something we wanted to try and avoid if we could,” he said.
The world isn’t the only thing that’s expanded upon in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The number of different languages spoken throughout the film is a step above any other Marvel film, with French and Mayan added to the mix alongside Xhosa.
According to Moore, this was a conscious choice by director Ryan Coogler to help the film feel “honest”. The producer said they anchored the language of Talokan in Yucatan Mayan and had an interpreter on the set every day to assist the performers.
“Giving Talokan a signature sound was as important to us as giving Wakanda the signature sound of Xhosa,” Moore said.
This results in a lot of the dialogue in Wakanda Forever being presented with subtitles. However, it’s something Moore believes audiences are ready for.
“Audiences are in for it. Like audiences want to hear it and it sort of expands your palate, even as a viewer, to hear those things,” he said. “And hopefully it makes the world seem richer.”
The story and scale of Black Panther 2 may be expanding, but it’s still very much a grounded story about legacy and loss. It’s a theme that, unfortunately, reflects the reality of Boseman’s death.
How Wakanda Forever will address the loss of its leading man has been a persistent question since the actor’s passing.
It’s not unheard of for Disney to recast a role after an actor’s death. Harrison Ford will soon become General Thaddeus Ross in the MCU after William Hurt passed away in 2018. The studio went with a different approach after Carrie Fisher’s death in 2016, choosing to use old footage and cut scenes for her appearance in Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker.
When asked if the creative team ever thought about including footage of Boseman for Wakanda Forever, Moore said, in this case, “it just didn’t feel like the right approach.”
“There are real relationships with us and Chadwick, the man beyond the character, and so you do have just an emotional reaction to even the idea of that — and it doesn’t feel good,” Moore explained.
“We did want to tell a story about grief and how to overcome grief. And part of that is his absence, to be quite honest. So it would have felt disingenuous both narratively and not great spiritually to do that.”
“Phase 4 for us is a lot about loss and renewal,” Moore said.
“If you think about WandaVision and Ms Marvel, and Falcon and Winter Soldier and Black Widow, even, it’s a lot of characters who lose things, but then discover a new thing. And Black Panther felt like an encapsulation of that idea.”
“There is a little bit of a weightiness to [Phase 4] for that reason, because it does deal with a lot of themes of loss. But to me, the takeaway is what happens next?” he continued.
“It’s how you move forward, and finding joy and finding heroism and finding bravery in spite of that loss.”
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever opens in Australian cinemas on November 10.
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