Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Producer Explains How That Surprise Relationship Came About [Exclusive]

Warning: this interview contains spoilers for "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever."

There are a lot of surprises in "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," and one of them is finding out that Julia Louis-Dreyfus' Valentina de Fontaine is not only the head of the CIA but also the ex-wife of Agent Everett Ross (Martin Freeman).

It turns out that giving Val and Ross a more complicated relationship was "Wakanda Forever" writer-director Ryan Coogler's idea. When I interviewed the movie's producer, Nate Moore, he shared how that relationship evolved and also teased what we may see from Valentina in the future.

Nothing like a divorce to make a relationship feel 'really resonant'

When I asked Moore about Ross and Val's romantic history, he shared that the idea stemmed from Coogler as a way to bring more nuance to both characters:

"We knew we wanted somebody to be able to put pressure on Ross, who, I think, for reasons that I understand, even in the first movie, wants to be an ally to Wakanda, but maybe can't in a way that he is used to because he has people who think — in their own way — have a defensible position by the U.S. government of how they would see Wakanda on the world stage."

And Val is a character who — much like Nick Fury in Phase One — we wanted to start to lay the groundwork for, and to ask the question: If Nick Fury's agenda was to build the Avengers, what is her agenda? I think that's fun. As far as them being exes, it was a little bit of nuance that Ryan thought would be helpful in making their relationship feel really resonant. So it's not just a boss and employee, which is fun, and I think colors the way they perform their scenes in a way, hopefully, that's enjoyable."

A scarier Valentina

And while Moore was unsurprisingly cagey about what we might see from Valentina in the future, he did share the following:

"I mean, I don't want to tease too much, but certainly I think she shows a side of her character that is probably a little scarier than what you're used to. And I think that's something that might be important of things to come."

A scarier Valentina? Considering she was pretty scary to me when I saw her in the Disney+ series, "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier," that doesn't bode well for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We'll definitely get to see more of that scary side, however, when the MCU's Phase Five finale, "Thunderbolts," comes out in July 2024 — she's set to star in that film, which has been called the MCU's response to DC's "The Suicide Squad." How she'll stack up against her likely DC counterpart, Amanda Waller, remains to be seen. 

"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" is now playing in theaters.