Before Chadwick Boseman’s shocking death in 2020 after a private battle with colon cancer, Ryan Coogler had already working on a script for a sequel to Black Panther that would have focused on Boseman’s T’Challa and his continuing story. In the wake of Boseman’s death, Coogler decided to reconceive the film as Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and to incorporate Boseman’s (and T’Challa’s) death into the narrative. Now the movie is about Wakanda after the passing of its beloved king, and how the country moves forward without him.

But we never knew until now that they, and Coogler himself, almost didn’t move forward at all. In a new interview about Wakanda Forever with Entertainment Weekly, Coogler reveals that he almost quit moviemaking entirely in the wake of Boseman’s death:

‘I was at a point when I was like, ‘I’m walking away from this business,’’ Coogler, 36, admits. ‘I didn't know if I could make another movie period, [let alone] another Black Panther movie, because it hurt a lot. I was like, ‘Man, how could I open myself up to feeling like this again?’’

After taking some time to think about things, and to reconsider Boseman’s impact on his life — as well as Black Panther’s impact on fans all around the world — Coogler realized it was worth continuing on with Black Panther 2 without his friend and lead actor. As he put it: “I was poring over a lot of our conversations that we had, towards what I realized was the end of his life ... I decided that it made more sense to keep going.”

Boseman’s death was obviously a terrible loss, but to me one of the more interesting things about Wakanda Forever is that it feels very much like a personal film from Coogler specifically about grappling with that loss. If Marvel had recast Boseman’s part and just continued on with a new T’Challa, Black Panther 2 might have been a perfectly serviceable action movie. But it wouldn’t have had this very intimate element that I think could make it quite unique in the MCU.

Here is the newly released trailer for the film:

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is scheduled to open in theaters on

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