Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Producer Teases What The MCU Has In Store For Its Characters [Exclusive Interview]

There are plenty of discussions to have about "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," but as is often the case with films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the movie sets many of its characters off on different paths by the time the final credits roll. Where exactly those characters go from here is, of course, a tightly held secret. 

Luckily, I had the chance to talk with the movie's producer, Nate Moore, who did tease where some of the "Wakanda Forever" characters will go in Phase Five of the MCU. Read on to get some clues about what's in store for Shuri, M'Baku, and others. Moore also shared how Agent Ross and a certain other character got their complicated backstory, as well as how long writer/director Ryan Coogler wanted to use Namor in a "Black Panther" film. 

Check out our full discussion below. 

'Could I just raise my hand and make sure no one uses Namor?'

This interview contains spoilers for "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever." It has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

I want to talk to you a little bit about Namor. He's a big character from the comics, and I wanted to know if he was always the antagonist for the film.

Yeah, he was, honestly. Ryan is a huge fan of comic books, and in publishing, Namor and Atlantis often would come in conflict with Wakanda and the Black Panther. And so even as early as post-production on the first movie, he was like, "If we get so lucky, could we maybe, could I just raise my hand and make sure no one uses Namor?" And luckily nobody was, and he had a great idea for it very early on. And so we started building towards that idea, which I think is really fun.

Just like in the original "Black Panther," you can see the point of view of the antagonist and where they're coming from, even if you don't necessarily agree with them. Was that always the idea for Ryan across both movies?

Absolutely. I think Ryan is such an intuitive filmmaker and sensitive person that he doesn't see villains, really. He just sees people who are acting in either their self-interest, or in this case, the self-interest of a people whose methods might be wrong, but whose point of view is right to them. And I think that's smart. I think the best villains are the heroes in their own mind, and Namor is no different. What he is doing in this film is all in an effort to protect his people from having to go through a trauma that is generational.

And I think that, hopefully, if people respond to him, may be why they might, because it isn't just, "I want to take over the world," which is not a real motivation. Namor is about his people — he is a ruler who cares for his people very deeply. And Tenoch Huerta, I think, embodied that. There's a scene in the film where you see him lose one of his people, and how much that impacts him. That's an important scene because you realize, "Oh, this isn't a guy who's doing this for no reason. It's because he cares." Again, his method you can argue with, but I don't think you can quibble with his point of view.

'This is not an upside — but making the movie was the first time the cast actually got to come together and mourn'

Obviously the movie went through a lot of changes with Chadwick Boseman's passing, but also the world is also a lot different than it was in 2016. Did that change the story of the film and how it was produced?

There's the emotional impact and the practical impact. Emotionally, not only were we trying to process the grief of losing somebody that we cared about as a person, but the world was going through a collective grieving process, both for the very personal losses of the people who lost loved ones to Covid, but also of a certain way of life that we were used to and the inability to mourn that together.

So that feeling of grief and loss and trying to find a way through that, very much, I think, permeated the DNA of the movie. And practically, we had to mount this movie during Covid, so it is just harder to make a movie. I mean, there's no other way to say it. You want everybody to be safe. You want your crews to be operating in an environment where they don't feel like they're going to get sick, and it does just throw another hurdle in trying to make something great.

But I will say — this is not an upside — but making the movie was the first time the cast actually got to come together and mourn, because otherwise we couldn't safely. So the process of making the movie, I think, was a little bit cathartic, because it allowed us to be together and to talk about it, and to put those feelings in the performances, and for people new to the franchise to understand the meaning of it, and the import of it. And that, I think, is important.

Absolutely. Did it change the story at all?

It surprisingly didn't. Obviously, Chad's passing did. It changed it fundamentally. The state of the world didn't, because I think thematically the movie wanted to be what it was, even in the early iterations when Ryan was developing it. But I think the way it hits is a bit different, because we all have gone through this incredible process together as a global people.

'If Nick Fury's agenda was to build the Avengers, what is her agenda?'

One thing I loved about the movie is that there are cameos, but they make sense for the story. I wanted to actually talk to you about Valentina Allegra de Fontaine and how she was Agent Ross's ex. That was a nice little touch. How did that come about?

Yeah! That's a good question. 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 — 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 [it] colors the way they perform their scenes in a way, hopefully, that's enjoyable.

Is there anything you can tease about what her goal is?

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.

'I think there are interesting stories that we may explore as to where she goes from here'

The other thing I want to talk to you about is we see Okoye get a new suit. It's a very distinct look. How did that look come together?

It's very much inspired by Brian Stelfreeze's work on the Ta-Nehisi Coates run of "Black Panther." And the Midnight Angels are in there. Okoye actually isn't one of the Midnight Angels in publishing, but we made her one here. And it is such a beautiful design, and I think gives you a hint of where this character is going because I don't know that she can go back to the Dora Milaje. So what does this woman who's only served one function her entire life do now? She's been excommunicated from the thing that she loves, but also has this amazing new suit that gives her capabilities she didn't have before. And I think there are interesting stories that we may explore as to where she goes from here.

Final question: The movie sets all the characters on different paths. Is there any character's path you're excited to potentially explore further within the MCU?

Oh, honestly, all of them. I think Shuri is in a really interesting place now as the new Black Panther but divorced from having to rule a kingdom. That's interesting, because there hasn't been a Panther who's been able to do that in a while. Obviously M'Baku takes on a new significance now in a way that's fun. If you think about where he started in the first "Black Panther" to where maybe he can go now, is really cool.

Okoye, we've talked about. Everett Ross has more story to tell, which I think will be fun. And Riri Williams, who's just gone through this experience that has pulled her out of a life that, even though she was clearly an incredibly smart person at MIT, has now had this crazy experience — she's seen an underwater kingdom, she's been to Wakanda, she's flown in and created an incredible mech suit. What happens to her when you plop her back into the regular world? I think it's going to be really fun.

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