Black Panther –
“They are trying to process with each other how to move forward and keep each other uplifted at the same time. You see the themes of family, of protection, of love, of care, all in one place.”
Black Panther -While the first Black Panther film from Marvel Studios focused largely on T’Challa stepping into the role of King and Protector of Wakanda as Black Panther while also honoring the forefathers before him, the latest film, Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has a different core. It’s story about a different relationship, one between a mother and a daughter.
It’s no surprise to say that sadly, T’Challa has passed away (mirroring the real-life events of Chadwick Boseman’s passing), and now, his mother, Queen Ramonda, and younger sister, Princess Shuri, must move on without him.
“The idea of exploring Shuri and Ramonda’s relationship takes center stage in the movie and exploring that dynamic,” co-writer Joe Robert Cole explains. “Ramonda comes to the table having dealt with grief before, with her husband. Shuri is really struggling when our film starts with the grief and dealing with her grief. The way that they bond and the way that their relationship grows throughout the film is an exciting journey for them.”
“It became immediately apparent to us that those were the two central characters of the movie,” Producer Nate Moore explains. “For the story of Black Panther and the story of Wakanda moving forward in a world where T’Challa is now no longer with us it only made sense to investigate what that loss meant for all of the people that he touched.”
However, while Ramonda has already dealt with this kind of loss before losing T’Chaka, Shuri is grappling with it for the first time.
“There’s no one who’s going to feel [the loss] more than his little sister Shuri,” Moore continues. “I think in talking with Ryan Coogler, one thing that he thought was really interesting to explore [in the movie] was this woman who has all the tools to invent anything she wants but wasn’t able to invent a cure for her brother’s illness.”
“The themes are pretty strong here,” Letitia Wright adds. “We have not only grief, but we also have a mother/daughter relationship. They are trying to process with each other how to move forward and keep each other uplifted at the same time. You see the themes of family, of protection, of love, of care, all in one place.”
Wright knows that the feelings on-screen reflect how many are feeling off-screen and in the audience. “I think that’s beautiful for us to explore because so many people are feeling that, especially with the years that we’ve just had. We can use this film to show people like, hey, like we feel what you’re feeling.”
According to Wright, she and Angela Bassett never really discussed Boseman’s passing, but rather let all their feelings and emotions come out during their shared scenes together. Explaining their first meeting when the film began shooting, Wright remembers, “I just held onto her and cried. There was no word spoken.”
“She just understood what was happening, and we silently made an agreement to just take that with us,” Wright continues. “Angela’s been an amazing contribution to my life since the first film. She was always giving advice. She was always very caring and like a mother, like really just loving on me. This film like it’s just another extension of how she loves me as Letitia and how she loves me as my character Shuri.”
This only enhanced their performance on screen, as Wright continues that in more intense scenes, “what was beautiful about it, it was in a sense us holding each other’s hands, processing together and going through this with our characters.”
While Black Panther: Wakanda Forever might be flanked by epic battles and gasp-worthy moments, returning writer and director Ryan Coogler knows at the heart of it, it’s a movie about different relationships in this world.
“We have some incredible set pieces and some really intense action, but at the end of the day I think what people are going to really remember is the conversations between characters and the ways they relate to each other…the empathy for each other in-between all the explosions.”