‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ Could Have Been “Summer Break” Movie, Director Reveals

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Director Ryan Coogler on the set of 'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever' (2022). Credit: Marvel Studios.

Credit: Marvel Studios.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022) could have been a family holiday movie, if it had followed the first draft of the script, the director revealed to the New York Times.

(L-R): Danai Gurira as Okoye and Letitia Wright as Shuri in Marvel Studios' BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER. Photo by Eli Adé. © 2022 MARVEL.
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: Review: “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022) was one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s most moving entries, an emotional treatise on grief, loss and moving on, built around the death of star Chadwick Boseman. But co-writer/ director Ryan Coogler has revealed what their original plot was planned to be, before Boseman’s unexpected death — and it would have looked like a very different film, one centered around a special father and son vacation.

Angela Bassett as Queen Ramonda in 'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever'. Credit: Marvel Studios
Credit: Marvel Studios

Along with co-writer Joe Robert Cole, Coogler had completed a first draft of the script which had been sent to Boseman himself to read.

He revealed:

It was, “What are we going to do about the Blip?” [In Marvel’s “Avengers: Infinity War,” T’Challa is one of billions of people who suddenly vanish, only to be brought back by the Avengers five years later.] That was the challenge. It was absolutely nothing like what we made. It was going to be a father-son story from the perspective of a father, because the first movie had been a father-son story from the perspective of the sons.

It’s a markedly different take on a sequel, leaning more into how T’Challa (Boseman) would deal with his own absence during the devastating, MCU-wide ‘blip’ which saw major characters including Black Panther, Spider-Man (Tom Holland) and Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) disappear for five years.

T'Challa Mural Black Panther: Wakanda Forever drums
Credit: Marvel Studios

The Wakanda Forever which audiences saw instead incorporated Boseman’s death into the plot, with T’Challa passing away from a incurable illness and the futuristic African kingdom of Wakanda, and T’Challa’s surviving family, dealing with the aftermath of his loss. In Boseman’s absence, Wakanda Forever was instead centred around Letitia Wright’s Shuri, who had to reckon with her savant-like tech skills being unable to save her brother’s life. Angela Bassett also received widespread acclaim for her role as Ramonda, T’Challa’s stoic mother.

The final cut saw the introduction of Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne), who will have her own Disney+ show Ironheart (2023). Martin Freeman and Danai Gurira both reprised their roles from the first Black Panther (2018), and Michaela Coel joined the cast as a new member of the elite Dora Milaje.

T’Challa’s love and ex-Wakanda War Dog Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) is revealed to have been living and teaching in Haiti, and parenting their son, Toussaint (Divine Love Konadu-Sun). Wakanda Forever kept Toussaint back as a post-credits reveal, but the first draft would have incorporated him as a key element of the plot.

Coogler continued:

In the script, T’Challa was a dad who’d had this forced five-year absence from his son’s life. The first scene was an animated sequence. You hear Nakia [T’Challa’s love interest, played by Lupita Nyong’o] talking to Toussaint [the couple’s child, introduced in “Wakanda Forever” in a post-credits sequence]. She says, “Tell me what you know about your father.” You realize that he doesn’t know his dad was the Black Panther. He’s never met him, and Nakia is remarried to a Haitian dude. Then, we cut to reality and it’s the night that everybody comes back from the Blip. You see T’Challa meet the kid for the first time.

New Black Panther
Credit: Marvel Studios

The news that Coogler would have had Nakia moving on in the gap caused some controversy with fans on Twitter, who commented on her leaving her relationship with T’Challa behind.

Twitter user @TimidMC said:

I don’t like the idea that Nakia remarried so soon. T’Challa was king. His son a prince and future leader of Wakanda. I think there might have been a lot more to consider here. It would have been interesting to know what happened in T’Challa’s absence. Who ran the country?

However, others disagreed, saying Nakia moving forward made sense and even comparing her to other superheroes such as DC’s Wonder Woman.

Twitter user @yoodadude said:

Good on Nakia being able move on Unlike Wonder Woman who was hung up on a guy she met in WW1

Coogler went on to reveal that the proposed initial draft would have covered a large span of time, jumping forward three years to cover a summer Toussaint spends with his heroic father. It was initially code-named ‘Summer Break’, showing how central that vacation plot would have been to the story.

Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o) and T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) talking in Wakanda
Credit: Marvel Studios

Coogler said:

Then it cuts ahead three years and he’s essentially co-parenting. We had some crazy scenes in there for Chad, man. Our code name for the movie was “Summer Break,” and the movie was about a summer that the kid spends with his dad. For his eighth birthday, they do a ritual where they go out into the bush and have to live off the land. But something happens and T’Challa has to go save the world with his son on his hip. That was the movie.

The change in story also changed the villains present too. Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Val, presented as the CIA director in the movie but very much a supporting role, would have been a more central adversary in this original story. Instead, she was mostly replaced by Tenoch Huerta’s Namor, leader of the Talokan people and fighting to defend his underwater home from the surface world.

Valentina Allegra (Julia Louis-Dreyfus)
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: Why Chadwick Boseman Made Fun of ‘Black Panther 2’s Script

Coogler said:

Val [the C.I.A. director, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus] was much more active. It was basically a three-way conflict between Wakanda, the U.S. and Talokan. But it was all mostly from the child’s perspective.

Obviously this would have been a vastly different film to the Wakanda Forever we received in cinemas, and not just because of Boseman’s presence.

What do you think to this initial draft? Tell us in the comments below.

 

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