The late franchise hero Chadwick Boseman was pleased about the inclusion of the kingdom of Talokan in the follow-up film, according to Black Panther: Wakanda Forever director Ryan Coogler. Boseman made his acting debut in Captain America: Civil War in 2016 as T’Challa, also known as the Black Panther. In 2018, he went on to star in Black Panther, a tremendous hit that solidified Boseman’s standing as a star of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and earned him the No. 6 slot in domestic box office history. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was changed to focus on mourning the loss of the actor and his character after Boseman tragically passed away in 2020 from colon cancer.
Director Ryan Coogler revealed Boseman’s thoughts on the appearance of the Talokanil people in the Black Panther sequel during an interview with EW for the Around the Table video series. The filmmaker claims that Boseman was “fired up” by the prospect of such Indigenous representation and was aware of the plans to include Namor and his country in the MCU. View Coogler’s comments below:
“I had spoken with Chad [Boseman] about that aspect of the script [introducing Talokan], and he was really excited. That was something he was fired up about. I remember we were at a restaurant in Los Feliz the first time we talked about possibly having indigenous American representation in the film. He got the biggest smile, like, ‘They’re never going to see this coming. It’s awesome.'”
The MCU’s Diversity Was Pioneered by Black Panther
The MCU has previously come under fire for its lack of diversity, especially in Phases 1 and 2, where each film is dominated by a white hero, and the characters of color that do make an appearance are restricted to assisting their white counterparts. Additionally, Captain America: Civil War dabbled in certain problematic and worn-out clichés and used the suffering of Black people and communities (such as T’Chaka’s passing, Rhodey’s paralysis, and the Lagos bombing) as a way to advance the story. Thus, the debut of Black Panther represented a major reboot for the series.
Black Panther did a lot of things right, such as displaying Wakanda’s accomplishments, busting stereotypes left and right, and proving that Black communities are not a homogenous group. It also included a cast that was primarily Black and extremely talented. Since the release of that movie, the MCU has made great progress toward making up for its past errors by giving more characters of color their moment in the spotlight and elevating the previously underutilized supporting cast members. For instance, Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) took on the mantle of Captain America in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, whereas Rhodey (Don Cheadle) will be the focus of the narrative in Armor Wars.
Since the release of the first Black Panther, the MCU’s feature films have undergone a substantial demographic shift outside of Disney+. The first Asian superhero was introduced to the MCU by Simu Liu’s titular character in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. In addition, Eternals had a diverse ensemble cast, while Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness featured America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), who made her MCU debut. The MCU has made excellent achievements with its diverse representation and certainly plans to continue on that front in the franchise’s next movies and television shows.
Even though it’s not a given, it seems unlikely that any of these empowering tales would have been made possible without the success of Black Panther. Boseman’s dedication to building on that legacy by encouraging the inclusion of traditionally underrepresented indigenous cultures in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is commendable.