In Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), Shuri (Letitia Wright), M’Baku (Winston Duke), Okoye (Danai Gurira) and the Dora Milaje (including Florence Kasumba), fight to protect their nation from intervening world powers in the wake of King T’Challa’s death. As the Wakandans strive to embrace their next chapter, the heroes must band together with the help of War Dog Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) and Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) and forge a new path for the kingdom of Wakanda. Introducing Tenoch Huerta as Namor, king of a hidden undersea nation, the film also stars Dominique Thorne, Michaela Coel, Mabel Cadena and Alex Livanalli.
In Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” Queen Ramonda, Shuri, M’Baku, Okoye and the Dora Milaje fight to protect their nation from intervening world powers in the wake of King T’Challa’s death. When Namor, king of a hidden undersea nation, alerts them to a global threat and his disturbing plan to thwart it, the Wakandans band together with the help of War Dog Nakia and Everett Ross and forge a new path for the kingdom of Wakanda.
According to director Ryan Coogler, Shuri struggles to embrace Wakanda’s next chapter. “Ramonda realizes that it’s been a year since T’Challa’s passing and Shuri’s still not healing—she’s not taking steps to move forward in a healthy way,” says Coogler. “They take a retreat—stepping away from the city, from the technology—to sit with no distractions and perform what is essentially a grief ritual. That’s when Namor shows up.”
First appearing as the Sub-Mariner in the Marvel Comics #1 in 1939, Namor is among Marvel’s oldest characters, acting both as hero and villain in the years to follow. Says Coogler, “In our story, he represents Talokan, a hidden underwater civilization that is our reimagined version of the comic book realm of Atlantis. His appearance there shows that Wakanda is not as safe as they thought, and he presents Ramanda and Shuri with a proposition.”
Despite state-of-the-art technology and hypervigilance, the Wakandans were completely unaware of Namor and his kingdom. “The notion of a society that was forced into hiding because of the events of the outside world is very much germane to the world of ‘Black Panther’ in the Marvel Cinematic Universe,” says producer Nate Moore. “Ryan [Coogler] is a very savvy filmmaker in putting these things together. Namor’s concerns resonate with Ramanda and Shuri—their nations have some things in common. But they may not agree with his solution.”
The encounter with Namor sets into motion Wakandan efforts to mitigate the situation in their own way—although Ramonda can’t help but worry about her daughter’s safety. “Ramonda is such an important character,” says Moore. “Here’s a mother who’s lost her husband and now her son. She has been ruling Wakanda in the absence of the king. It’s an interesting dichotomy seeing these two women as leaders, as the queen and the princess, and as mother and daughter.”
Says Coogler, “We were really excited to explore the relationship between Ramonda and Shuri. The first film has a lot of father-son dynamics—both the protagonist and antagonist had to deal with moving on after his father passed away. This film very much became a story with motherhood as a motif. So often moms have to continue to mother through difficult situations.”
When Chadwick Boseman passed away in 2020, the filmmakers had to take a big step back and really consider what this next story could be. King T’Challa was the heart of “Black Panther”—and Boseman remains in the hearts of everyone who worked alongside him. “Chad’s passing affected filmmakers and the actors in a way that was incredibly profound,” says Coogler. “Chad was very much our artistic partner in this project, in this franchise and in this storytelling. I would spend time with him, just he and I, talking about where we wanted to see the character go, where we wanted to see the story go, how much he admired the other characters and the actors that portrayed them. We realized that it would only be right for us to continue the story.”
Adds Moore, “We didn’t think Chad would have wanted the world of Wakanda—and the effect that movie had on kids—to go away. Emotionally, it felt like letting it go would be the easier thing to do, but I don’t think it would’ve been the right thing to do. I think to do right by the legacy of the man you have to continue to do right by the legacy of the movie.”
As filmmakers thought about the story, a new theme arose: How does one cope with grief and overcome loss? This theme, and how it affects each character, ended up being the driving force of the narrative. “For the story of Wakanda to move 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,” says Moore. “And there's no one who's going to feel that effect more than his little sister, Shuri.”
A genius and top scientist, Shuri tries to lose herself in her work until Namor’s arrival forces her from her comfort zone. She’s not alone, of course—not in grief and not in her desire to uphold Wakanda’s world standing. The princess and Queen Ramonda have a support system that includes Nakia, the greatest spy Wakanda has ever known; Okoye, the passionate and powerful leader of the Dora Milaje; M’Baku, the ruler of Jabariland; Ayo, an elite enforcer of the Dora Milaje; Aneka, high-ranking leader of the Dora Milaje; and Everett K. Ross, American CIA agent.
Stars returning to the world of Wakanda include Emmy® nominee Letitia Wright (“Silent Twins,” “Black Mirror”) as Shuri, Academy Award® winner Lupita Nyong’o (“The 355,” “12 Years a Slave”) as Nakia, Danai Gurira (“The Walking Dead,” “All Eyez on Me”) as Okoye, Winston Duke (“Nine Days,” “Us”) as M’Baku, Florence Kasumba (“Avengers: Infinity War,” “Wonder Woman”) as Ayo, Emmy® and BAFTA award winner Michaela Coel (“I May Destroy You,” “Chewing Gum”) as Aneka, with Martin Freeman (“Breeders,” “The Hobbit” trilogy) as Everett Ross, and Academy Award® nominee Angela Bassett (“911,” “Mission: Impossible-Fallout”) as Ramonda.
The film also features a host of characters who are new to the Wakandans, portrayed by award-winning actors. Ariel Award winner Tenoch Huerta Mejía (“Narcos: Mexico,” “The Forever Purge”) stars as Namor, King of Talokan, a hidden nation under the sea. Alex Livinalli (“Ozark,” “Queen of the South”) portrays Attuma, Namor’s strongest warrior; Mabel Cadena (“The Dance of the 41,” “The Goddess of Asphalt”) was cast as Namora, a ruthless Talokanil warrior; and Dominique Thorne (“Judas and the Black Messiah,” “If Beale Street Could Talk”) stars as Riri Williams, a whip-smart, super cool 19-year-old MIT student whose genius brain gets her into trouble.
Says Moore, “I think audiences can expect this movie to celebrate both the legacy of the character of T'Challa and that of Wakanda as it continues to move forward. It's going to introduce new characters that you’ve never seen before and be the building blocks for the next phase of the MCU.”
Ryan Coogler (“Black Panther,” “Creed,” “Fruitvale Station”) directs from a screenplay he wrote with Joe Robert Cole (“Black Panther,” “All Day and a Night,” “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”). Kevin Feige, p.g.a., and Nate Moore, p.g.a., are the producers; Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso and Barry Waldman are executive producers. David J. Grant is co-producer.
The creative team behind “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” includes director of photography Autumn Durald Arkapaw, ASC (“Loki,” “The Sun Is Also a Star”) and many of “Black Panther’s” original team—including Academy Award® winning production designer Hannah Beachler (“Black Is King,” “Moonlight”), editor Michael P. Shawver (“A Quiet Place Part II,” “Creed”), Academy Award® winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter (“Coming 2 America,” Selma), visual effects supervisor Geoffrey Baumann (“Doctor Strange,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron”), Emmy®, Oscar® and Grammy Award® winning composer Ludwig Göransson (“Venom,” “Fruitvale Station”), music supervisor Dave Jordan (“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” “Thor: Love and Thunder”) and Academy Award® winning makeup designer Joel Harlow (“Black Adam,” “Jungle Cruise”) returned for the sequel. Nicole Rowley (“Black Widow,” “Aquaman”) is special effects producer, and Kelley Dixon and Jennifer Lame (“Tenet,” “Marriage Story”) are editors.
Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” opens in U.S. theaters on November 11, 2022.
Production Designer Hannah Beachler and Costume Designer Ruth E. Carter Return to Wakanda and Create Stunning New Undersea Kingdom
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” returns to the rich and extraordinary world of Wakanda where the community mourns the passing of their king. The film also ventures to an intriguing new place, Talokan, which is a breathtaking underwater civilization that descended from an ancient Mayan community. According to director Ryan Coogler, the two kingdoms have a lot in common: both were hidden from the world and both have a powerful resource that the rest of the world wants.
Production designer Hannah Beachler, who earned an Oscar for her work on “Black Panther,” reteamed with Coogler to bring the worlds of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” to life. For Wakanda, Beachler was tasked with expanding the nation, creating new, never-before-seen areas. “That’s the exciting part,” she says. “We’re going to see more of our capital city, our golden city. You can think of it like Manhattan where you have the culmination of all of the different districts of the country in once place.
“We get to see more of the day-today life of the normal Wakandans,” adds Beachler, “as well as North Triangle, the oldest place in all of Wakanda, which is inspired by ruins in Zimbabwe. We’ll see a little river town for the first time and more of Jabari. We also have new aircrafts for the Wakandan Navy that we didn’t have before.”
According to costume designer Ruth E. Carter, also an Oscar-winner for her work on “Black Panther,” the looks for the Wakandans were an extension of what was established in the first film. “We're building a story around a culture that we built in ‘Black Panther,’” says Carter. “It's important that that be our landscape and our base, and we wanted to showcase upgraded technology and armor. Wakanda itself is such an extraordinary concept that we really wanted to come back to it and groom it.”
As Talokan began to take shape, Coogler and the filmmaking team wanted to ensure that the reimagining of the comic book realm of Atlantis was grounded. “It came from the first film—we wanted Wakanda to feel like a real place—a place you could go and visit,” says Coogler. “We realized pretty quickly that we needed to build a history for Talokan for it to feel like Wakanda felt in ‘Black Panther.’”
In “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” Namor is the ruler of Talokan, a breakaway underwater civilization descended from an ancient Mayan community and hidden in the depths of the ocean. The fictional world reflects how a real community might have changed and evolved over time, forced underwater and separated from the rest of their people and culture. Inspired by the rich histories and cultures of Ancient Mesoamerican civilizations, the filmmakers worked closely with consultants to ensure thoughtfulness and intentionality in the creative decisions made across everything from production design to costumes to storytelling. The designs of the characters and city indicate not just their roots but how the ocean environment has become core to their culture and way of life. The Talokanil are fictional and unique to “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”
According to Beachler, the world of Talokan took nearly two years to develop. “We started at the very beginning,” says the production designer. “‘Where are they located? How did they get there? How did they survive?’ We wanted the underwater city to be modern but with the architecture they would have taken with them. It’s mysterious and provocative and gorgeous.”
Beachler felt the underwater city had to be built mostly with stone, and couched it in Mayan architecture, colors and iconography that is a homage to a civilization that is still very present but also has a classic feel to it. “It felt like starting over just like when I walked into Wakanda,” says Beachler, who developed a 400-page guide for the undersea kingdom.
When it came to costuming the underwater civilization, Carter started with historians in an effort to infuse the looks with authenticity. But, by definition, the world depicted in the film is a departure from anything that might exist in historical Mayan culture. “The subculture has lived under water for thousands of years, giving us more latitude,” says Carter, who consulted with marine experts to incorporate deep-sea elements into the Talokan looks. “Namor’s costumes reflect the tradition that he honors and the position he holds as king. We used a lot of kelp to make his headdress and his hand-woven cape. We added shells and beads—his look gives you a sense that he has traveled through time.”