Ryan Coogler assembled a stellar cast for Marvel Cinematic Universe blockbuster Black Panther, the majority of whom are returning for sequel Wakanda Forever, but it turns out the studio had no idea how popular many of the supporting players would turn out to be.
We’ll put the furor surrounding Letitia Wright to one side for now, because fans were hyped when it was first announced she’d be playing an expanded role in the second installment. Danai Gurira’s Okoye is expected to headline the in-development Disney Plus spinoff, Florence Kasumba dropped by The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Lupita Nyong’o’s Nakia was being set up as a potential queen of Wakanda before Chadwick Boseman’s tragic passing.
During an Eternals set visit interview via ScreenRant, veteran MCU producer Nate Moore admitted that the company were taken by surprise when Black Panther’s supposed background players ended up becoming fan favorites in their own right.
“When we made Black Panther, we didn’t realize Okoye or Shuri would be as popular as they were. Well, then, all of a sudden you’re like well, we’re making Avengers, wouldn’t it be cool if Okoye and Shuri were in this film as well. So to some degree, there is a little bit of audience feedback where we go.”
Kevin Feige knows what his audience wants and largely gives it to them, but he also listens to what they have to say and takes it on board. You can never predict who’s going to be a breakout star in the most successful franchise the movie industry has ever seen, but Black Panther managed to offer up an entire handful in one fell swoop.