Even though Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was guaranteed to make serious bank at the box office, it might just be one of the riskiest projects the Marvel Cinematic Universe has ever produced for a variety of reasons, something director Ryan Coogler is fully aware of.
Not only was the sequel forced to recast its title hero in the wake of Chadwick Boseman’s death, but it had to do so in a manner that paid a fitting tribute to the actor’s legacy both on and offscreen, while still fitting neatly into established canon and continuity.
Then there was the pressure to deliver a worthy follow-up to a cultural behemoth that ranks as the best-reviewed feature in the franchise’s history, one that also went on to earn upwards of $1.3 billion at the box office on its way to becoming the first superhero blockbuster to land an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture.
Quite frankly, that’s an insane level of expectation, so it was no surprise to hear Coogler admit to Deadline that virtually every element of the project felt like a risk, even though he managed to find a way into the story that made sense.
“The biggest change was the decision to have a different protagonist. That was a risky change. [Boseman] and the character were very aligned … so it was the best way for us to move forward with a story about a mother and a daughter. It became very clear to us that would be the relationship that would anchor the film. … We got really excited about making a superhero movie about motherhood, about a Black mom and a Black daughter.”
Wakanda Forever may not be winning quite the same level of acclaim as its predecessor, but it’s proving to be a sizeable critical and commercial success after only 10 days in release, with fans applauding the raw emotion on display.