Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has seemed destined for greatness for months and months now, and seeing the Phase Four swansong cashing in magnificently on such expectations has been a sight to behold.
As is often the case with Marvel, it was no small undertaking, but Wakanda Forever faced the largest obstacle ever, bar-none, with the tragic loss of Chadwick Boseman. Putting aside the fact that he was the star of the original Black Panther and brought the character of T’Challa to exuberant life, his loss caused a particularly powerful ripple effect throughout the set, leaving his former collaborators in a state of collective grief.
But it’s perhaps this grief that united the team on a wickedly passionate front, inspiring everyone to pull double their fair share of weight to rocket Wakanda Forever to the heights it deserved, and no one led the charge quite like Ryan Coogler, whose creative insight coupled with his powerhouse-heavy cast resulted in some unforgettable performances.
Riri Williams was a character that Coogler had a particularly large hand in bringing to life, according to a Screen Rant interview with Riri’s actress Dominique Thorne. In the interview, Thorne had nothing but praise for Coogler, whose insight was pivotal in making Riri’s MCU bow such an impressionable one.
He knows how to get to the truth of a person. He knows how to tap into whatever that is about the human experience that draws us in and really connects us. He does that well every time. To get to work with him now and just sort of hear his thoughts and ideas on who Riri is, and how she moves through the world; what she looks like, what she wears her hair like, how she dresses, that she might be a sneaker head? The best guide by far.
Indeed, from Riri to Shuri to Okoye to Namor to Ramonda, due credit must be given to their actors, of course, but Coogler’s ability to draw out the meat of one’s humanity in a character can’t go unchecked, and we’ll see how far Thorne continues to build upon Coogler’s input when Ironheart, the upcoming Disney Plus series centering on a newfound plight faced by Riri, releases to Disney Plus in late 2023.