Chadwick Boseman’s death has made a lasting impact on the Marvel Cinematic Universe and beyond, and Black Panther director Ryan Coogler is no exception. The filmmaker returned to honor Boseman and T’Challa with Wakanda Forever, but he nearly declined the job—and his entire career—in the wake of such monumental loss.
“I was at a point when I was like, ‘I’m walking away from this business,’” Coogler tells Entertainment Weekly in a new interview. “I didn’t know if I could make another movie period, [let alone] another Black Panther movie, because it hurt a lot. I was like, ‘Man, how could I open myself up to feeling like this again?’”
Boseman was such a close collaborator in creating Wakanda and the Black Panther journey that it took his words—which Coogler returned to from previous interviews and personal recordings—to get the director back on board. “I was poring over a lot of our conversations that we had, towards what I realized was the end of his life. I decided that it made more sense to keep going.”
Once he decided to continue, he became the guiding light for the rest of the crew. Lupita Nyong’o recalls, “I dreaded the start of this shoot because I could not imagine how we would proceed without Chadwick. It was unfathomable to me. But Ryan managed to honor his life and his role in both the film and our lives with his moving, truthful, and clear vision.”
Winston Duke shares that the cast would “take turns” galvanizing each other when “one person was having a hard day.” Danai Gurira can pinpoint hers: “The tribal council room, that was hard to step back into because the last time we’d seen that throne, it was with Chadwick.”
As Letitia Wright—the rumored new Black Panther—has previously expressed, she carried Boseman “in every scene.” She says, “I always would ask, ‘Bro, what do you think?’ and just try to keep a spiritual connection. He meant everything to me, and he’s the reason why I’m here. He picked me to be his sister, so I couldn’t have done this journey without him.”