The Music Of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Is All About Shuri's Journey

One of the first things you'll notice when watching "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" is that its soundtrack is very distinctive and unique for the MCU. Sure, the same could be said for the first film's score, as well, but there is a palpable somberness that echoes throughout this one that is unlike anything we've heard yet. Of course, there's an important reason behind this — the film centers around Shuri's (Letitia Wright) grieving process, who is still reeling from the sudden death of her brother, T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman).

In an exclusive interview with Screen Rant, composer Ludwig Göransson talked about the process of composing for "Wakanda Forever" and how both scores serve as mirrors to each other. Since the first film was scored from the perspective of T'Challa, and Boseman is no longer with us, that had to change for the sequel.

"What you hear in the whole first movie is basically driven by the talking drum. [It] kind of became the sound that was T'Challa's sound," Göransson said. "In this movie, we had to spend a lot of time on how we're placing that sound. How would we place that sound in a way that feels right?"

Like much of the movie, this was an obstacle that the composer had to overcome. However, he found the right solution in the new film's story, which had Shuri take over as the lead. From there, he wrote the score to mirror the character's complex emotional journey.

'Shuri is the center of the story'

It's well-known by now that "Wakanda Forever" was going to be a bit of a different movie. Unfortunately, due to Boseman passing away in 2020 and Marvel wisely deciding not to recast the role of T'Challa, it had to be retooled in a big way. This caused Shuri, who was introduced in the 2018 film as the Black Panther's wise-cracking techy sister, to become the film's lead. While some elements of this first characterization remain, she is overall different as she faces an insurmountable loss.

"She's been going through a lot," Göransson said in the interview. "She's a grown woman now, so she's dealing with a lot of grief and pushing it down."

Because of this shift in characterization, the music guiding her on her journey also needs to shift. While some instruments and chords are familiar, there are certainly more different things than similar ones. One of these changes is the inclusion of Shuri's own theme, which features a vocal performance from singer Jorja Smith and changes as the film progresses.

"When she finally realizes what type of leader she's going to be [...] that melody goes from intimate vocals to this huge bombastic, distorted synthesizer," he described. "It just hits you in your face, and then somehow that theme morphs and goes into symbiosis with the Panther theme, and they work together and they're connected."

Needless to say, Göransson did a fantastic job at combining storytelling with music. His "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" score will be available on November 11, 2022.