‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ writer speaks out on the sequel’s shocking death

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Photo via Marvel Studios

Warning: Major spoilers for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever to follow.

It’s safe to say that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has the uncontested claim to the most emotional MCU project in history. For the ups and downs of our heart strings during the events of its closest competitor, Avengers: Endgame, Wakanda Forever‘s unabashed exploration of grief, trauma, and family – to say nothing of the real-life tragedy that so much of the film’s emotion was rooted in – looks nigh-on untouchable in comparison.

Anchoring the majority of this tension was the star of the show, Letitia Wright’s Shuri, whose heart was gutted right out of the gate thanks to the offscreen death of T’Challa. From that moment on, the Wakandan princess becomes intimately familiar with her tumultuous relationship with grief, rejecting tradition and using her laboratory as a palliative coping mechanism.

But, of course, T’Challa was only the beginning; the final move of Namor’s counteroffensive on Wakanda wound up claiming the life of her mother, Queen Ramonda. For those of us who could still see the screen through all of our tears, we witnessed that the rage in Shuri’s already-damaged heart had reached very dangerous levels.

In an interview with Variety, Joe Robert Cole, who co-wrote the film’s screenplay with director Ryan Coogler, revealed the nuances behind the decision to kill off Ramonda. He noted how it was one of the biggest stepping stones in Shuri’s character arc, particularly with how it eventually builds up to her final encounter with Namor, and also plays an important role in the aftermath of that encounter.

“How do you escalate that to where what happens at the end of the film feels earned? How can we get her to a place where we believe in her vengeance; and that fight on the beach that she is trying to kill this man, and that she has what it takes to take out this guy who is so powerful? We felt like that was something that made the most sense for our story.”

Perhaps only Black Bolt’s death in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has comparable levels of brutality. but even then, the death of Ramonda, which put an end to her own suffering whilst compounding Shuri’s exponentially, draws its weight from the tangled, sob-worthy mess of emotions attached to it, and will no doubt be remembered as one of the franchise’s most impactful deaths ever.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is currently playing in theaters.