BLACK PANTHER WAKANDA FOREVER cast talks about new movie – interviews •


When “Black Panther” came out in 2018, it was more than just a superhero movie; it was a cultural landmark. It was the first superhero movie to revolve around a black hero and put a black nation front and center. It introduced much-needed representation, giving millions of people heroes they could identify with.

Directed by Ryan Coogler, the film is the ninth highest-grossing film of all time, the highest-grossing film by a black filmmaker, and was nominated for seven Oscars. A sequel was in the works when Chadwick Boseman, the film’s lead star, tragically passed away from an illness in 2020.

The decision was made to continue without Boseman, but the new sequel, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”, honors Boseman’s life by portraying Wakanda as a nation struggling to overcome the loss of its king. The cast, including Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong’o, Tenoch Huerta Mejía, and MCU President Kevin Feige, joined us for a special press conference to discuss the sequel and Boseman’s legacy.

Emotions were running high at the press conference, but the actors laughed at how little they could say about the film’s top-secret plot and the big question, who will reprise the role of Black Panther?

Kevin Feige told us the importance of continuing with Black Panther despite Boseman’s death. “After the shock, the shock became, what do we do? What should we do? Should we do something? It was determined that this amazing set of characters and the created world should continue. Ryan worked on a version of the film with T’Challa for a year, and he put his experience directing the first film into it. When we lost Chad, it all got poured into this movie. He kept the celebration of Wakanda front and center, in addition to heartbreak.

Letitia Wright who plays Shuri, T’Challa’s younger sister and a genius capable of rivaling Tony Stark, tells us that this time around we see a very different character deeply affected by her brother’s death. “When we meet Shuri in the first movie; he’s a ray of sunshine… He was the person his brother turned to for protection; she made her armor. We follow that; what does it look like when your heart is broken? Ryan walked us through how we create a full arc of this young woman going through something difficult alongside her family and fellow Wakandans. The way it was written, the delicacy, the gentleness of our approach, we always talked and communicated every step of the way. And we were able to bring something that felt real, that felt truthful, and I was able to give my heart to it. I hope people can resonate with this and find healing alongside us.

Lupita Nyong’o, who plays Nakia, T’Challa’s true love, added that she was unhappy with the director when she first read his character plans. While she couldn’t specify what happens to her in the film, she joked that she was jealous of how Wright could angrily play Shuri when she’s much more reserved in her grief. “I was so jealous of Letitia because she gets chaotic. I felt raw and wanted to express that. Nakia is more advanced in her dealings with grief. Ryan described her as T’Challa’s oasis. I was reading the script and thinking about where she was, and I realized what she was to T’Challa, she could now deliver Shuri, I was frustrated at first, but playing Nakia was therapeutic for I had to look past my frustrations over losing Chadwick and learn from this wisdom that Nakia possesses.

According to Danai Gurira, who plays warrior Okoye, honoring Boseman helped her through the filming process despite her loss. “Chadwick loved seeing us shine. We would ask him for advice on how to play our characters, and he always gave us a lot of encouragement. Grounding me was the purpose of honoring him and the way he loved.

The movie “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” introduces a new civilization, the Tlālōcān, an ancient people who live under the sea. Tenoch Huerta Mejía plays Namor, their leader, who has a bone to choose with Wakanda.

Huerta says it wasn’t easy playing a villain against the beloved Wakandans, but says director Ryan Coogler created a complicated character whose reasons are valid, even if his actions are wrong. “It’s tricky when you have a character like this who wants to destroy something that a lot of people, myself included, identify with. Ryan found a way to make Namor’s decision human. It doesn’t give them reason, it’s not an excuse for what he’s doing, but it makes you understand.

Huerta says Namor and Shuri have a lot in common. “We have these two characters making different decisions with their grief and the threat, but they share the same hurt. How they solve the problem depends on their personality and history. That’s the nice balance in the movie; he has diapers.

BLACK PANTHER WAKANDA FOREVER is in Irish cinemas from November 11

Lyrics: Cara O’Doherty


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