The Last-Minute Reversal That Saved Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" came out last year, and I don't know about you, but I was in tears from the trailer alone. After losing star Chadwick Boseman in 2020 from colon cancer, director Ryan Coogler and the Marvel's movie's cast created a beautiful tribute to their beloved colleague. Sure, there were some issues with the movie overall, but it still stands out to me and legions of fans as a monument to the love we all had for the actor and the character he played so well. 

Outside of the love for Chadwick Boseman, there were a couple standout moments in the movie, including the opening Dora Milaje action scene and Queen Ramonda's (Angela Bassett) powerful speech at the United Nations. According to the audio commentary for the film from Coogler (via Movie Web), those scenes almost ended up on the cutting room floor, and it could have changed the film for the worse. 

' ... it was just the worst movie ever'

Coogler said they were experimenting with taking out those scenes. He said: 

"And we were just talking like, 'Yeah, it'll work without it, 'cause X, Y, and, Z ... And I remember I came in early at 6am to watch, because I just wanted to watch it down before we tested it with the scenes out. And we pressed play on it, and I was watching it, and it was just the worst movie ever, you know what I'm saying?"

Having seen the film several times, I don't think losing those scenes would have resulted in the "worst movie ever," but your mileage may vary. Still, the Dora Milaje are the heart of Wakanda, and that speech from Ramonda is just gut wrenching. Watching her fight to keep something else (vibranium) from being taken from her by the leaders of the rest of the world was a perfect study of what grief can do to you, and she was completely justified in what she did. I say this without a political science degree or anything like that, but the sentiment stands.

'Yo, this is a mistake. We gotta fix this'

Coogler explained on the commentary track that he called producer Nate Moore about it right away. He said: 

"I was like, 'Oh, this is terrible.' At some point, I was standing up in the screening room completely alone, like 6:45am, and I'm just calling on my phone, calling Nate [Moore], I'm calling everybody like, 'Yo, this is a mistake. We gotta fix this.' But it's a trip to understand how important these two scenes are for the movie to work."

The stress of piecing a film together must be incredible, especially close to test screenings. Adding in the loss of Chadwick Boseman, whom Coogler was close to, and the complete restructuring of plans, that pressure must have been enormous. There was so much expectation for this film to be both a tribute to a beloved actor and an entertaining Marvel film for audiences, which is a truly difficult balance to find. In my mind, Coogler delivered 100 percent. 

"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" is currently streaming on Disney+.