Director Ryan Coogler had a thin line to walk for his sequel to Black Panther.
Following up 2018’s mega-hit that was unlike any Marvel superhero we’d seen before, reaching out to audiences and cultures that previously felt underserved by blockbuster entertainment, would have been difficult enough. Coogler had an opportunity to direct a sequel to 2015’s Creed, but passed on it to jump into the Marvel sandbox and bring comic books’ first Black superhero to the big screen.
Topping himself and continuing the story of Wakanda’s King T’Challa was going to be much more difficult — logistically and emotionally — after the death of star Chadwick Boseman two years ago. How could Marvel and Coogler, along with the amazing cast and crew that brought the fictional African nation to vivid life, keep the story going without the Black Panther himself?
Out of respect to Boseman, Marvel decided that T’Challa wouldn’t be recast. That was probably the correct decision, especially so soon after the actor’s death. Asking fans — and those who worked with Boseman — to accept a new face in the role would have been difficult. (Though during the past two years, sentiment — online, anyway — has turned toward recasting and advancing a character that was so iconic, so important to audiences.)
So Coogler and writer Joe Robert Cole (who collaborated on the first film’s screenplay) embraced the real world’s intrusion on Marvel mythology and acknowledged Boseman’s death in the story by giving T’Challa much the same traffic fate. As a result, Wakanda Forever serves as a tribute to the actor, allowing fans and colleagues to mourn and perhaps find closure with the loss.
Hello from the mountains of North Carolina! Last week’s Not a Newsletter was a bit whiny, as I was hit with a surprise cold that had me feeling lousy and thinking burnout. I’m not sure that was totally accurate, but it’s on my mind and I put it out there. But plenty of us are working a lot and slogging through.
As I finish this up, the Oscars are hours away. It’s one of my favorite events of the year, though I don’t think that interest is shared among many friends, except for a close few. Yeah, the Oscars are self-important and probably silly. But for those of us who love movies, it’s the culmination of the past year. And maybe some of us like knowing we have good taste; our favorites were named “The Best”!
Due to feeling sick for a few days, it wasn’t the most productive writing week here at Casselbloggy HQ. That probably meant more reading. But I did manage to pound a few articles out, including a ranking of the 2018 Best Picture nominees.
Here’s what we have to show from the past seven days. Be excellent to each other.
** So Trump was having a bad day and because he was in a pissy mood, he decided to put tariffs on steel and aluminum. Yeah, that seems rational. [NBC News]
** Jordan Peele is only the fourth African American to be nominated for Best Director. Could he be the first to win that Oscar? The Hollywood Reporter gathered those four filmmakers for a roundtable discussion. [THR]
** I’ve been a Detroit Tigers fan all of my life (or since my adolescence when I first took an interest in sports). It’s astounding to me that I didn’t know who the public address announcer at Comerica Park is. His name is Bobb Vergiels, and he drives from Central Florida to Detroit 12 times a year for that job. [Detroit News, hat tip Mike McClary]
** My pooping habits are quite normal, thank you very much. [Men’s Health]