Ryan Coogler was in the thick drafting the story for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the sequel to Marvel’s 2018 record-breaking phenomenon Black Panther, when a crushing bombshell was dropped on the world.
Chadwick Boseman, his 43-year-old star, had died after a four-year battle with colon cancer that he’d kept private from nearly everyone.
As Coogler has mournfully lamented, there are words he and co-writer Joe Robert Cole wrote for Boseman’s Avenger T’Challa that we’ll never get to hear him speak.
Now, as Wakanda Forever nears release without Boseman, following Shuri (Letitia Wright), Ramonda (Angela Bassett) and the people of Wakanda as they mourn their king’s death and face a new threat from the underwater kingdom of Talocan, Coogler is sharing details on what the original story entailed before the actor’s tragic death.
“It was different,” Coogler tells Yahoo Entertainment. “It had similar themes, but it was very much rooted in his perspective. And he was going through some things personally that are relatable, different from what Shuri and Ramonda go through in this movie.
“I wrote some killer lines for him. It’s a strange thing to think about.”
In a separate interview with Inverse published this week, the 36-year-old Fruitvale Station and Creed writer-director got more specific on his initial plans for this film’s premise.
The similar themes Coogler mentioned mostly dealt with grief. But instead of Wakandans mourning their fallen king, it was T’Challa mourning the loss of time that occurred when he disappeared for five years from Thanos’s snap (causing “the blip”) at the end of late-2018’s Avengers: Infinity War.
“The tone was going to be similar,” Coogler told Inverse. “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.”
As for Wakanda Forever’s central antagonist, Tenoch Huerta’s Namor, and his Mayan-inspired kingdom, that aspect remained unchanged.
“There were other characters, for sure, that we considered including,” Coogler added. “Namor was always there.”
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever opens Nov. 11.
Watch the cast talk about honoring Chadwick Boseman with new sequel: