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The Black Panther: Wakanda Forever screenwriters spoke with The New York Times for an interview published on Friday, in which they discussed the personal and creative impact of losing Boseman ahead of the Marvel sequel’s release.
Coogler, who also directed both films, has previously spoken about how the “blip” event that occurred between Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame — which essentially wiped out half of every living thing across space — would play a key role in Boseman’s second turn as Wakanda’s King T’Challa. The superhero and leader of one of the world’s most powerful nations was among those who had disappeared during the five years between both films, and both writers were interested in exploring what that would mean for him, especially after he had lost his own father in the first film.
“That was the challenge. It was absolutely nothing like what we made,” Coogler said. “It was going to be a father-son story from the perspective of a father, because the first movie had been a father-son story from the perspective of the sons.”
Fans learn about T’Challa’s son, Toussaint, from the king’s Black Panther love interest Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) during an end credits scene in Wakanda Forever. But Coogler says audiences would have been introduced to him way earlier, with the film relying on animation to help fill in the narrative gaps.
“The first scene was an animated sequence. You hear Nakia talking to Toussaint. She says, ‘Tell me what you know about your father.’ You realize that he doesn’t know his dad was the Black Panther. He’s never met him, and Nakia is remarried to a Haitian dude,” Coogler explains. “Then, we cut to reality and it’s the night that everybody comes back from the Blip. You see T’Challa meet the kid for the first time.”
But fans would not have just learned about Toussaint earlier. They would have also experienced the narrative through his eyes, along with a three-year time jump that sees T’Challa co-parenting.
“We had some crazy scenes in there for Chad, man,” Coogler said, reflecting. “Our code name for the movie was ‘Summer Break,’ and the movie was about a summer that the kid spends with his dad. For his eighth birthday, they do a ritual where they go out into the bush and have to live off the land. But something happens and T’Challa has to go save the world with his son on his hip. That was the movie.”
When speaking to Inverse for an interview in November ahead of the Marvel sequel’s release, Coogler shared that ultimately the shift they made following the passing of Boseman was less of a tonal shift, than a shift in casting. The director also confirmed that Tenoch Huerta’s Namor “was always the antagonist.”
“The tone was going to be similar,” Coogler said. “The character was going to be grieving the loss of time, you know, coming back after being gone for five years. As a man with so much responsibility to so many, coming back after a forced five years absence, that’s what the film was tackling. He was grieving time he couldn’t get back. Grief was a big part of it.”
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