John Boyega Has A Pitch For A The Woman King Sequel

"The Woman King" may tell a story set firmly in the past, but it's got fans and critics alike looking to the future already. The film dramatizes the real-life West African kingdom of Dahomey and its all-female army, the Agojie, within the context of a sweeping war epic. It's already shaping up to be a watershed moment for Black female representation. Star and producer Viola Davis fought long and hard to usher in a new era for action flicks and for blockbusters at large. The success of "The Woman King" could open the floodgates for all kinds of new, inclusive genre fare, including, but not limited to, a sequel for the Viola Davis starrer.

The rise of Ghezo

"The Woman King" director Gina Prince-Bythewood is notably averse to sequels, but that hasn't stopped the cast from cooking up a few ideas on their own. John Boyega, who plays the Dahomean king Ghezo in the film, has been casually pitching his own idea for a sequel to his cast mates. He passed it along to Thuso Mbedu ("The Underground Railroad"), who in turn supplied Variety with the highlights:

"John's idea is amazing ... Basically, to go back to the history of the Dahomey — where he isn't really a favorable king in real history. He would want us to touch on that in the second one. What if we see him as more of a villain? That type of situation. And I was like, 'That's nice!' It would be cool to see him in a different light."

Boyega's pitch seemed to excite Prince-Bythewood too. "I texted Gina the other day about it," Mbedu continued, "and she was like, 'Ah, actually that could work,' and then started bouncing ideas, and I'm like, 'Gina, go to sleep!' And she was like, 'No my mind is ticking already.'"

The true history of Dahomey

The choice to continue the story of the Agojie is still firmly in Sony's hands — but a sequel would be a good idea for multiple reasons. For one, it would be a great way to course correct a few of the narrative liberties taken in "The Woman King." In real life, Dahomey was a fierce supporter of the slave trade. The Agojie were well known as traffickers across West Africa, a fearsome army that captured slaves from neighboring kingdoms to sell to European colonizers. Ghezo himself passionately protected his interests where profit was concerned, and Dahomey became infamous for its contributions to the booming slave economy.

Of course, their relationship to the slave trade was borne out of necessity and driven by a need to survive, a fact that "The Woman King" tries to make clear. But Boyega's King Ghezo notably condemns the slave trade in an impassioned speech at the end of the film, one that echoes the 'Black Lives Matter' speech that Boyega himself made after the death of George Floyd in 2020. "The Woman King" suggests that Dahomey will be moving to put an end to the slave trade after the credits roll, even proposing that they were aware of the atrocities happening to slaves in the Americas, when reality was much more complicated. It's invited a fair amount of pushback against the film, but there's still a chance to tell a story that skews a bit closer to true events.

The next generation

If Boyega hopes to step into his villain era with a "Woman King" sequel, what about other members of the cast? Funnily enough, Davis herself may not stick around for too long, if at all. "Viola says, 'If there's a sequel, Nanisca is toothless on her deathbed,'" Mbedu told The Hollywood Reporter. "She said that she should die within the first five minutes. That conversation started when we were training. She was like, 'This is so hard. I cannot imagine myself doing this again.'"

Nanisca's death would actually make Ghezo's turn all the more plausible. In "The Woman King," she's very much the moral center of the film, influencing Ghezo to do the right thing when everyone — his advisors, his wives, and even Portuguese traders looking for a piece of Dahomey's profit — would rather he stick to the status quo and keep contributing to the slave trade. Nanisca is the only one who believes there's another way to survive. With her gone, another member of the Agojie would have to step up and embody what she represented. It'd be a perfect role for Mbedu's Nawi, whose arc throughout "The Woman King" was all about learning what it means to become Agojie.

Of course, this is all just hopeful speculation. "The Woman King" hopefully has a long life ahead of it at the box office, but in terms of a second life in the form of a sequel, it's a bit too soon to tell. It's nice to know that, if the opportunity were to arise, the cast are more or less on board, and with yet another story worth telling.

"The Woman King" is playing in theaters now.