Ryan Coogler Talks Decision To Return For ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’, Defends Namor’s Ankle Wings

You’re going to be hearing a lot about Black Panther: Wakanda Forever over the next month, and probably a ton from director Ryan Coogler. That’s for very good reason. It’s one of the most anticipated movies of the year, and also one with many question marks surrounding it. For a while, it looked like the film might not happen at all following the traguc, sudden death of star Chadwick Boseman. And it turns out, Coogler nearly decided that it was a bad idea to make it, but to continue directing at all.

Coogler told EW

“I was at a point when I was like, ‘I’m walking away from this business,’” Coogler said. “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?’”

He continued, “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.”

Obviously, Coogler did come back, and the sequel has posed an interesting challenge. That is how to deal with the absence of T’Challa, and how to convince the rest of the cast that this story would be worth telling…

“It’s my job as a filmmaker to do things that I have personal integrity with,” Coogler explained. “If I don’t believe in what I’m doing, I’m going to have a hard time getting other people to do their best work. For them to do their best work, they have to believe in it. At the end of the day, the choices we make have to feel truthful to me. When filmmakers make things that don’t feel truthful to them, you can feel it. And I will argue that those projects don’t have a shot at working.”

There’s also the idea that Wakanda Forever will be a means for the cast, crew, and millions of Boseman’s fans to cope with their grief together. Coogler feels the film, with its introduction of Namor and the underwater kingdom of Talocan, is the perfect way to do this…

“There’s that idea of grief and intense emotion feeling like it comes in waves,” he said. “Sometimes a wave can take you away where you lose control of it. You think you’re in control, but the water can always remind you that you’re not.”

Speaking of Namor, the latest trailer gives us our best look yet at Tenoch Huerta as the Sub-Mariner himself. One aspect in particular that I think fans were surprised, both in a good and bad way, are Namor’s trademark ankle wings. Cooger talked about why he wanted to include those in the film…

“I think with making these types of movies, you’ve got to lean into the weird stuff, or you risk missing what makes it fun. [Namor’s] got really unique features and things that don’t necessarily go together. He can breathe underwater, obviously, but he’s got these little wings on his ankles. He’s got pointy ears and walks around in his underwear. It’s all fun, man.”

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever opens on November 17th.

Travis Hopson
Travis Hopson has been reviewing movies before he even knew there was such a thing. Having grown up on a combination of bad '80s movies, pro wrestling, comic books, and hip-hop, Travis is uniquely positioned to geek out on just about everything under the sun. A vampire who walks during the day and refuses to sleep, Travis is the co-creator and lead writer for Punch Drunk Critics. He is also a contributor to Good Morning Washington, WBAL Morning News, and WETA Around Town. In the five minutes a day he's not working, Travis is also a voice actor, podcaster, and Twitch gamer. Travis is a voting member of the Critics Choice Association (CCA), Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), and Late Night programmer for the Lakefront Film Festival.