There's more than one way to measure the success of a film; but when it comes to 2018's Black Panther, that blockbuster film managed to achieve them all, ranging from box office numbers to audience reception to its powerful, cultural significance.
The problem, however, is attempting to follow that kind of success. That's the challenge Black Panther 2 faced upon its announcement and one that was made all the more difficult following Black Panther's Chadwick Boseman's passing.
Originally scheduled to release in the summer of 2022, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is Marvel Studios' effort to continue that story while also paying tribute to Boseman's contributions. It was also expected that Letitia Wright -T'Challa's genius sister Shuri would assume the Black Panther mantle.
Unfortunately, filming hasn't gone according to plan. Following reports that Wright sustained on-set injuries in Massachusetts, Marvel Studios delayed their upcoming slate bumping Wakanda Forever from its summer of 2022 release to a November 11, 2022 debut.
This was then followed by reports that production was forced to halt altogether, raising concerns about the film's future; and now, just ahead of the holidays, Marvel Studios is finally sharing more information.
Black Panther 2 Letter Details Delay
Following news that production for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was forced to pause due to Letitia Wright's injuries, Deadline has reported that Marvel Studios sent an update to the cast and crew of Black Panther 2 which reads:
"As we wind down for the holidays, we wanted to send a note of thanks and appreciation for the hard work of our entire cast and crew, as well as an update on timing. First and foremost, this project is exceptional and something we know audiences are eager to see. We could not be any more excited to complete this film and share it with the world next year. Thank you for everything you’ve done to get us to this place. Unfortunately, we’ve not gotten here without a few setbacks. Running a production of this scale in the midst of a pandemic is not an easy task, and you have remained diligent and professional throughout."
The message from Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, as well as Co-President Louis D'Espisito and Producer Nate More, then acknowledged Wright's "frightening accident" on the set admitting that her injuries consisted of a "critical shoulder fracture, and a concussion with severe side effects:"
"In addition, as you are all aware, Letitia had a frightening accident on our set during a stunt back in August. It was a reminder of the importance of safety at all times in our work, which we know you understand and are committed to. What we had initially thought were minor injuries turned out to be much more serious with Letitia suffering a critical shoulder fracture, and a concussion with severe side effects. It has been a painful process and Letitia has been home recovering with her doctors and the support of family. We’ve adjusted our production schedule so she has the time she needs to heal, but there’s only so much we can do without Shuri! We also want to thank Letitia for everything she’s doing to get back to the set – we know how much she loves this role, how tough it’s been for her to be away, and how hard she’s working to recover as quickly as she safely can. We are eagerly awaiting her return and we know we will all come back stronger together."
The message from the studio heads concluded by encouraging the cast and crew and stating that "we're on schedule to resume filming - with Letitia - in January 2022:"
"Please be on the lookout for more information on your specific return-to-work date. As of now, we’re on schedule to resume filming – with Letitia – in January 2022. We are all focused on finishing the movie with excellence, honoring the memory of our dear brother Chadwick in the process. We are thrilled to share Black Panther: Wakanda Forever with the world, confident that the challenges that we have overcome together as a team will make the film even more impactful. Please take care of yourselves and enjoy the holidays." -Kevin, Louis & Nate
Wakanda Forever's Good News & Bad News
Unlike other Marvel films, Black Panther 2 - and its cast - have a responsibility to continue the legacy and importance of the original Black Panther film, and clearly, the road hasn't been an easy one.
On-set injuries are concerning no matter who's involved, but the fact that the film's potential lead sustained a shoulder fracture and a concussion with "severe" side effects is major news; and due to the current conversation surrounding on-set safety, it's likely one that Marvel Studios will have to continue to talk about in the coming months.
The good news, however, is that the sequel is on track to keep to its new film schedule, meaning that Letitia Wright is improving and should have the green light to continue in her role.
Also, the language in the letter confirms that, despite all of the difficulties and distractions Wakanda Forever has faced, neither the studio nor the film's team has lost sight of the film's importance and Chadwick Boseman's legacy.
Therefore, regardless of the roadblocks, it's still safe to say that fans can expect a powerful and poignant sequel later next year.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is set to release on November 11, 2022.