When it comes to modern-day Hollywood, Marvel Studios is in a class all its own in terms of pioneering an interconnected universe and its record of box office success.
But despite what some Hollywood insiders believe, the MCU's appeal isn't limited to cinematic spectacle and superpowered beings. Instead, audiences keep coming back for the MCU's focus on character, story, and message.
One of the best examples of this is 2018's Black Panther which, not only succeeded with critics and at the box office but also proved to be one of the most culturally significant films of all time. While a sequel was always going to be a challenge for writer and director Ryan Coogler, the loss of Black Panther's Chadwick Boseman left many to question if a second film would happen at all.
Now, on the eve of Black Panther 2's theatrical debut, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has touched on why the studio's 30th film is its most important to date.
Kevin Feige Talks Black Panther 2's Importance
In a Marvel Entertainment promo highlighting Black Panther: Wakanda Forever director Ryan Coogler, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige shared that the sequel "feels like the most important movie we've ever made:"
“All of us very much believe that this feels like the most important movie we’ve ever made. That is what every crew member focused on every day, and none more so than Ryan Coogler at the helm of it all.”
As to why the film is so important and how Coogler approached it, the director explained that "above all, it is a relationship movie" and it addresses the question of "how do you move forward after losing someone:"
“Above all, it is a relationship movie. We’ll have some incredible set pieces... But at the end of the day, I think what people are going to really remember is the conversations. How do you move forward after losing someone that meant so much to you? You have to continue their legacy.”
In addressing these themes on-screen, Coogler and the Black Panther 2 cast had to do the same off-camera as well, from visiting Chadwick Boseman's resting place to continuing to honor the actor's own legacy throughout the film's promotion.
In talking about honoring the late actor, Feige explained to CinemaBlend that the sequel "rides a fine line of a real-life tribute to the legacy of Chadwick" while also offering the "optimism that Wakanda always represents," saying:
"I do know that Ryan and the entire team approached this movie just like they approached the first one, which is: how do we make the best experience possible for the audience? And how do we make the best experience that people will want to repeat again and again? That was the driving motivation. And something that is an incredible tribute to the legacy of Chadwick. This one rides a fine line of a real-life tribute and yet continuing the fictional narrative and the hope and – I just keep going back to that word – optimism that Wakanda always represents.”
No doubt such a balance was a difficult feat for Ryan Coogler, but despite the challenges he faced, his cast has nothing but praise for him and his leadership.
Also speaking in the promotional video for Marvel, actress Angela Bassett, who's reprising her role as Queen Ramonda, noted the director's "big heart" and talent as a storyteller, saying:
“Ryan has such a big heart and is such a great storyteller. The actors that he’s brought together were filled with emotion and passion.”
Shuri actress Letitia Wright shared a similar sentiment, relaying that “His heart is really pure and we should protect him at all cost.”
Finally, MCU newcomer Tenoch Huerta described Coogler as an "artist" with the "heart to listen:"
“Ryan is an artist. He has the heart to listen to you. To look in your eyes and go deep, not just in the story, but in your soul.”
Why Black Panther 2's Story Tops Other MCU Tales
From what fans have heard from critics about Black Panther 2, it sounds as if Marvel Studios and Coogler delivered yet another powerful story, continuing the franchise's tradition of stories and messages that resonate and inspire.
And, while some are sure to point out that the MCU has dealt with death before, such as in Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man: Far From Home, and Spider-Man: No Way Home, Wakanda Forever is different as its a direct reflection of real life.
The Black Panther franchise not only lost its lead character but its main actor who was just as inspiring and instrumental as the character of T'Challa. And, the cast was living through that loss just as their characters were in the film.
If Wakanda Forever can embody those real-life experiences in yet another inspiring story, once again, the franchise has done more than just entertain.
And, while that would be enough to earn Feige's claim about its importance, it's also worth noting that grief isn't the only major theme Black Panther 2 intends to address.
Just like how 2018's Black Panther was a watershed moment for Black representation, its sequel looks to do the same with Tenoch Huerta's Namor and his Mesoamerican-inspired kingdom of Talocan.
Given just how many important themes and messages Coogler tackled in this film, it's no wonder that Kevin Feige considers it the MCU's most significant story yet.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever arrives in theaters on November 11.