One of the standout elements of Marvel's most recent adventure to Wakanda was the introduction of a brilliant MIT student who happened to have created her own suit of armor alongside a Vibranium detector that made her a target of foreign nations, such as Namor’s Talokan.
While Riri got plenty of screen time, at one point, a longer version of the movie existed that gave her even more to do—namely, spending more time with Shuri locked away at Talokan.
Up until this point, that’s the most fans knew about it. However, now, the star behind Ironheart herself shed some more light on what audiences missed out on from the cut footage.
Build With Scraps in a (Talokanil) Cave
While speaking exclusively to The Direct’s Russ Milheim as part of Puff’s campaign at Children’s Healthcare Atlanta, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Ironheart actress Dominique Thorne spoke about some deleted scenes in the recently released Ryan Coogler sequel.
When asked about previously revealed removed scenes between Shuri and Riri in a longer cut of Wakanda Forever, Thorne was able to speak on what some of those deleted sequences involved.
The actress noted that a number of the sequences were in the Talokanil cave where the two were held prisoner and “were definitely strong, relationship-building moments for Shuri and [Riri]:”
“A lot of those moments in the cave were definitely strong, relationship-building moments for Shuri and I. That was definitely the first time that… We obviously know and associate both these characters with an incredible amount of brilliance, but this was, in that cave, sort of the first time that they’re both realizing, ‘Oh, you speak my language. Okay, I don’t have to alter myself. I don’t have to tone it down. We can just get straight to the meat of the problem.’”
It was in this deleted subplot that not only did Riri join Shuri in visiting Talokan itself, but the duo helped Namor with a project while using those technological supplies given to them to build themselves a distraction to escape—these choices bear a striking resemblance to what Tony Stark himself did with the help of Ho Yinsen back in 2008.
“In this case, it’s the fact that they’ve been kidnapped and that Shuri has gained the favor of Namor at the time. So, there were moments where, actually, how Shuri goes out into Talokan, and she’s getting to see the city where Riri joins them as well, and they discover as they’re taking this view, Riri notices the thing that’s powering them, the Sastun that they mentioned, could be used to help them escape…
Thorne went on to emphasize how both Shuri and Riri used their "shared brilliance" right in front of Namor to both help his city, but also get them closer to freedom at the same time:
"And so from that point, it’s really them using that shared brilliance and what Riri’s now seeing as an opportunity to build and strategize their way out of there under the guise of helping them find a more efficient way to distribute their power.”
This would have seen Shuri and Riri “talking about life experiences” while they “[siphoned] off materials and supplies to rig their own distraction:”
“From there, the two of them are work-shopping there, working on this thing for them that they say they’ll give them in exchange for their life, but all the while, sort of siphoning off materials and supplies to rig their own distraction and get out of there. And while they’re doing that, just sort of talking about life experiences.”
Thorne went on to reveal that the final product did end up using some of the audio from the cut scenes in Talokan, instead placing it towards the final act of the film, when the two brilliant minds were figuring out how to defeat Namor.
“We did, though, use the audio from one of those building moments, and that’s the audio that we hear… I think it’s the montage with Riri, and the flamethrower, and all that. But that audio was originally for them building in the cave. And Shuri’s like, ‘So, when did you build your first machine? Who did you learn this from?’ Riri references her dad, which for all the Ironheart folks they’ll know that’s how she took up her name. And Shuri, of course, talks about her brother. That was truly the inspiration for her. So yeah, it was a really big sort of bonding, smart-girl, 'Let’s get out of here.'”
When it was pointed out that all of that sounded like a fun parallel to what Tony Stark went through in his own cave back in the first Iron Man, Thorne excitedly exclaimed, “exactly, exactly.”
Connecting Riri Williams & Tony Stark
It's a shame that those scenes were taken out of Black Panther 2.
For one, it would have provided a neat parallel for both Riri and Iron Man. Ironheart is technically considered a legacy hero to Stark, yet, there really aren't many connections between the two in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The cut content also would have helped let audiences further sympathize with the Talokanil, before they would go on to obliterate Wakanda.
However, the movie was about three hours long as it stands, so it had to make cuts somewhere. Hopefully, some of the footage will see the light of day eventually. Perhaps as deleted scenes on the upcoming physical release?
Also, it’s fun to point out that the unused shot of Riri Williams hammering out a heart-shaped piece of iron from the trailers was likely meant to be a part of those cut moments.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever lands on Disney+ on February 1.