Filmmaker Ryan Coogler reveals how he elevated the sense of unease surrounding the nefarious Namor in ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.’
Per SlashFilm, Coogler shares that he instructed the production team to craft an unsettling ambiance in the underwater kingdom of Talokan, to enhance a feeling of foreboding about Namor (Tenoch Huerta).
Coogler explains that it was important for viewers to feel a tingling sense of unease about the character. He describes how he used the optics of the film to achieve this:
“There’s always this idea that Namor … you’re unsure about him. So that was brought into the whole sequence, that they can’t see very far, they don’t have much visibility, [Shuri’s] in this deep environment. Even down to the designs in his throne room, there’s these eels that are always in the background, kind of moving around, and that’s just to give you the sense that you’re just unsure about this guy.”
Coogler’s talent for devising convincing alternative domains was evident in the design of Wakanda in Black Panther (2018) film. Creating the world of Talokan posed unique challenges, but the writer/director discovered opportunities for invention.
To realize his vision, he turned to production designer Hannah Beachler. She understood that Talokan was essentially a reimagining of Atlantis with influences from the Mayan culture.
Beachler had previously worked with Coogler on Creed (2015) and on the exquisite Afrofuturism of the original Black Panther, for which she became the first African American to receive an Academy Award for Best Production Design. She was also the production designer of the sixty-five-minute film that accompanied Beyoncé’s visual album Lemonade (2016).
There’s a stirring eloquence about Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. It processes the heart-wrenching loss of King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) through its brave confrontation with the most taboo aspect of reality: the enigma of death. Talokan seems to be a metaphor for the limitations of human comprehension concerning what Shakespeare called “the undiscovered country.” Princess Shuri’s (Letitia Wright) sojourn to Talokan, her suspenseful experience of its obscurity and danger, seemed a mirror for her grief.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is streaming on Disney Plus.