“Black Panther Wakanda Forever” made its long-awaited world premiere Wednesday night in Hollywood, with director Ryan Coogler and the film’s star-studded cast paying tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman.
The Marvel sequel takes place following the death of Boseman’s King T’Challa, with the people of Wakanda — especially Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), Princess Shuri (Letitia Wright), War Dog Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), Okoye (Danai Gurira) and M’Baku (Winston Duke) — grieving their loss and searching for a way for their kingdom to endure.
As T’Challa’s death plays a major role in the story of “Wakanda Forever,” Boseman’s absence during the evening’s premiere cast a shadow over the celebration. Amid great speculation that Shuri will assume T’Challa’s mantle of the Black Panther in “Wakanda Forever,” Wright shared her feelings about creating a sequel without Boseman on the carpet.
“I’m bracing,” Wright told Report Door
. “I’ve seen some member’s of Chad’s team. When we lock eyes, we know how this feels. We have to take a step away. I see my aunt locking my eyes with me, she’s very proud. I have to take a step away… It’s emotional. We’re trying to hold it together.”
Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige shared his own thoughts on Boseman, expressing gratitude that they were able to work together, even if it was for all too brief a time.
“I got to have him in my life for the short time that I did,” Feige shared. “More importantly, he did it at such a young age, such a body of work, that it will last forever. Generation after generation after generation will get to feel his presence.”
Feige was also greeted by Coogler during his interview, offering some glowing praise for the filmmaker on his big night.
“He’s one of the best people I’ve ever met, one of the best filmmakers,” Feige said. “Maybe the best person I’ve ever met.”
“This is hyperbole! This is hyperbole right here,” Coogler laughed, before offering some kind words in return to Feige. “Incredible producer!”
Along with returning cast members, new entrants to the world of Wakanda include Michaela Coel as Aneka, a captain and combat instructor in the Dora Milaje, and Dominique Thorne, who makes her Marvel Cinematic Universe debut as Riri Williams a.k.a. Ironheart, as well as representatives for the kingdom of Talokan, led by Tenoch Huerta Mejía’s Namor, one of Marvel’s oldest characters. In the comics, Namor has been both a friend and a foe; it seems Coogler and co-writer Joe Robert Cole have found a way to demonstrate both sides with this antagonist.
Like Marvel Cinematic Universe entries, much of the plot for “Wakanda Forever” has been shrouded in secrecy. One major news item was revealed early Wednesday though, when Disney confirmed that Rihanna would sing an original song written for the film, titled “Lift Me Up.” The song marks Rihanna’s first new music in six years.
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” hits theaters on Nov. 11.