Wakanda Forever, the sequel to Marvel Studios’ award-winning $1.3 billion film, Black Panther, had its African premiere in Nigeria – the first time Marvel had an African premiere there hosted.
At the Lagos event on Sunday, November 6th, the film’s director Ryan Coogler and several leading actors spoke to Eureka News Now about the importance of celebrating the film in Africa’s most populous country and how they look forward to further exploration of different cultures hope the story will impact global audiences.
The film follows the 2020 death of Chadwick Boseman, who played King T’Challa – the black panther – in the original film which was released in 2018.
Introducing new anti-hero Namor, king of the underwater kingdom of Talokan, who breaches Wakanda’s defenses while the land still mourns the loss of T’Challa, Wakanda Forever presents another mythical and powerful nation – this time with roots in the Mayan culture.
Coogler, who also co-wrote the screenplay, said the launch of another rich legacy was on the horizon when he began developing the idea for the sequel in 2018. “We wanted to kickstart it by making it more culture specific, more detailed and more personal. And even after Chadwick died, we stayed the course. I spoke to him before he died and he was thrilled with the direction the film was taking,” said Coogler.
“Our diversity is our strength”
The 2018 film was one of the highest-grossing films in Africa, with audiences responding positively to the Kingdom of Wakanda, which represented a mix of African countries and cultures and an ideology of an Africa many would like to see.
Lupita Nyong’o, the Kenyan-Mexican actress who plays Wakandan spy Nakia, told Eureka News Now she hopes global audiences will connect with the diversity shown in the film. “There is power in a diverse human experience,” she said. “I think it’s always good to be able to relate to people who don’t look like you and see your humanity in them. Our diversity is our strength as people.”
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever premiered in Africa in Lagos, Nigeria. In attendance were its stars, including Lupita Nyong’o, who plays Wakandan spy Nakia. Nyong’o said she hopes global audiences will connect with the diversity shown in the film. Credit: PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/AFP via Getty Images
Nyong’o and her co-star, Zimbabwean-American actress and writer Danai Gurira, attended the premiere of Black Panther in South Africa in 2018, and it’s important to her that more performers come to the continent she owns call home. “It’s always a comfort to come back to the continent. We’re very different in Africa, but there’s also a consistent lineage there,” Nyong’o said. “There’s just something that feels more familiar and accessible, and I love that.”
The film’s score and soundtrack also celebrate the cultures championed in the film, with a mix of Latin American and African artists such as Grammy-winning Nigerian artist Burna Boy, Amaarae from Ghana, British artist Stormzy, whose mother is Ghanaian , and Grammy-nominated Nigerian singer-songwriter Tems, who co-wrote the lead single, “Lift Me Up,” sung by Rihanna. The soundtrack was recorded in Nigeria, Mexico and London.
Gurira, who reprises her role as General Okoye, the leader of Dora Milaje, Wakanda’s all-female army, said of the premiere, “It feels like tremendous progress to have so many of us here this time. I’m really looking forward to being here and I think it’s different than in the US or the West because the story is so ingrained on the continent that the idea of celebrating it big here is only right.”
Also in attendance were actors Winston Duke, who plays M’baku, leader of the Jabari tribe, Letitia Wright, who plays tech genius Princess Shuri, and Tenoch Huerta as Namor. The premiere was one of the opening films at the African International Film Festival (AFRIFF), which runs until November 12.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hits theaters worldwide on November 11.