It won't be long before Black Panther: Wakanda Forever releases in cinemas, and many are already wondering whether the Marvel sequel will live up to the success of its predecessor.
Ryan Coogler's Black Panther sequel is already weighed down with the massive task that comes with honoring the legacy of Chadwick Boseman after the actor tragically passed away in 2020. Trailers already revealed that a new Black Panther will pick up the mantle, but how Wakanda Forever handles Boseman's absence is a big talking point amongst fans.
2018's Black Panther was also a milestone film for Marvel Studios, garnering overwhelming acclaim amongst critics, audiences, and fans. It even earned the MCU its first 'Best Picture' nomination at the Oscars, and many are wondering whether the sequel will see the same success.
Kevin Feige on Black Panther 2's Oscar Odds
The question of whether Black Panther: Wakanda Forever could follow in the footsteps of its predecessor at the Oscars hasn't escaped Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige.
In an interview with Total Film, the Marvel Studios head said he didn't know where the Academy's votes would go following reports of the sequel's chances of winning:
"I’m not the kind to predict what the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will do with their precious votes. I don’t know."
Feige did say that Coogler approached Wakanda Forever "just like they approached the first one" and focused on making something that would be an "incredible tribute" to Boseman:
"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.”
Feige added that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever "rides a fine line" between its commitment to the MCU storyline and its place as a tribute to Boseman:
"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."
Adding to the idea of honoring Boseman's legacy in the film, actress Lupita Nyong'o told the outlet that the loss of her co-star was "felt worldwide:"
"The truth is, the loss of Chadwick was felt worldwide. People felt his loss far and wide. And I don’t think we can underestimate the love of fans… I do think that even from the reaction from the trailer, that people appreciate the venue to take their feelings to."
Wakanda Forever Letitia Wright added that the Black Panther cast members and the audience share a connection and that "they know we're sharing an experience:"
"I think the audience members and the cast members are all connected in a way that’s very felt. We really feel each other. It’s not a separate thing where we’re asking them to come into this world and empathise with us. Immediately, from the time they buy their ticket, they know that we’re sharing an experience."
Could Wakanda Forever Take Home Awards Gold?
In the wake of such a massive loss, the impact of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has the potential to surpass even that of the previous film. It's easy to see how such an emotional story could resonate deeply with audiences, but will it be enough to touch Academy voters?
Chadwick Boseman's legacy has been honored at other awards ceremonies of late, with the actor taking home a posthumous Emmy award for his last voice acting role as T'Challa in Marvel's What If...?.
Even though the actor won't appear in Wakanda Forever, recognizing the film at a prestigious awards ceremony like the Oscars would be a fitting tribute to the loss of a king.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever releases in cinemas on Friday, November 11.