Black Panther: Wakanda Forever director Ryan Coogler has been receiving high praise for his work on the franchise, but it seems that the MCU filmmaker was "convinced" that he was going to get fired during the first Black Panther movie due to an unexpected reason.
Coogler has been a big part of the MCU, with him steering the Black Panther franchise in the right direction. As a result of the first movie's success, the veteran filmmaker is set to be heavily involved with several Disney+ shows, like Ironheart and multiple Wakanda spin-off series.
During post-production of 2018's Black Panther, Coogler even successfully requested Marvel Studios to restrict other directors from using Namor. Moreover, Wakanda Forever producer Nate Moore even acknowledged the filmmaker's ability to develop antagonists for his movies that possess a great deal of nuance.
Still, amid those high praises, it looks like Coogler has his own fair share of disappointments at one point during the first Black Panther's production.
Why Ryan Coogler Thought He Almost Got Fired on Black Panther
In an interview with Kevin Polowy of Yahoo Entertainment, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever director Ryan Coogler explained why he thought that he almost lost his job during the production of the first Black Panther movie.
Polowy first asked what was going through Coogler's head when developing the sequel without its lead star Chadwick Boseman, to which the filmmaker responded with his own heartfelt thoughts on how he kept going:
Polowy: “What’s going through your head early on? Were there ever points where you didn’t even know if you could do this or–”
Coogler: “Yeah, yeah.”
Polowy: “–should do this?”
Coogler: “Yeah, you run the whole gambit, you know? ’Cause the first thing we were dealing with was shock… And then coming out of the shock, it was like, man, I didn’t wanna feel how I was feeling… So I thought a lot of irrational thoughts. But thankfully I had the time to let those thoughts pass and reflect, think about what was right and what [Chadwick] would want. There’s no way to call him and ask him… But… I actually think he communicated what he wanted to tell us through his actions. And I was trying to listen to that, interpret that, and made the call to keep going.”
The conversation then shifted to the first film, with Polowy telling a story on how Marvel Studios producer Nate Moore was being "antisocial" after the opening night of the first movie.
Coogler then pointed out that Moore was the "only one who knew what [Black Panther]" was gonna be before noting that he was convinced that he was going to get fired then since they were "falling behind:"
Polowy: “I don’t think there’s any doubt he wanted you to keep going. I was telling Nate [Moore] the story about being with him on opening night of the first movie, we were at The Dime trying to celebrate and he’s in the corner on his phone the whole time. I’m going over to give him shit for being antisocial; he’s just tracking the box office numbers. Every once in a while, he’d show us and go… It meant so much to him for what it meant for the culture.”
Coogler: “He knew what it was gonna be. He was the only one who knew what it was gonna be while we were making it. And he would say that to me. I was convinced I was gonna get fired on that movie, ’cause we were falling behind."
The MCU director then shared the reassuring words from Moore that he's not going to let Marvel fire him, before eventually comparing Black Panther to Star Wars:
"From our vantage point, I was like, ‘Oh, we not doin’ it. We not doin’ well.’ He was like, ‘Bro… man, you like killin’ it, man. Nobody’s firing you… I’m not gonna let that happen.’ (laughs) Like a hand on the shoulder kind of thing. He would come out, it’s like, ‘Yo, nobody’s gonna believe this. Nobody’s gonna be ready for this. This is Star Wars.’ He would say that. ‘This is Star Wars. Look at this.’ Like, he’d come on, and kinda be amazed at the sets, and point around, and look around…”
During the Official Black Panther podcast, via Collider, Coogler shared the significant role of Boseman in crafting the world of Wakanda and his impact in creating T'Challa as an impactful character.
Coogler first mentioned that Boseman's "significance can't be overstated," acknowledging the fact that the late actor was having "difficult conversations" on what Wakanda should be:
“His significance can’t be overstated. There really isn’t anything like him. Because he was cast before a director was hired for ‘Black Panther.’ Chad was hired for [‘Captain America: Civil War’], way before they knew for sure that ‘Black Panther’ was going to be a movie. He was hired onto a white movie. With white directors, white writers. Fortunately, Nate Moore [producer] was creative executive, [but] he was basically hired to be this African king, this super-iconic character from the comics… and he was basically there to bring life to the character, but what Chad was also doing… He was protecting us, before ‘us’ was even a thing. He was on set advocating for what Wakanda should be, and he was having very, very difficult conversations. Conversations that are not easy to have: ‘What is T’Challa gonna sound like?’"
Coogler continued to explain how Boseman was "thirty steps ahead of the game" compared to "Marvel being ten steps ahead:"
"He was so good in that movie, and the decisions that he made were so amazing, that it seemed like T’Challa was always a thing when you watch [it]. He was out there having difficult conversations with the most prolific, the most powerful studio in the world. He was having hard conversations about what Wakanda was going to be. […] You talk about Marvel being ten steps ahead, Chad was thirty steps ahead of the game. In many ways, he was like a head of studio, in terms of being confident in what was going to work.”
Wakanda Forever Proves Ryan Coogler is the Right Choice
Ryan Coogler's intense passion for the Black Panther franchise is apparent from the start. In fact, many would agree that being fired from the director's chair of the first movie is a wrong move from every angle, especially after the success that it achieved.
This simply cements how focused and responsible Coogler is in terms of spearheading an impactful movie like Black Panther.
Moving to the follow-up, Coogler was tasked with the difficult job of delivering a sequel without Chadwick Boseman, who is, in many ways, the cornerstone of the Black Panther franchise. After the strong and positive reactions from critics about Wakanda Forever, it's safe to say that the MCU filmmaker delivered on all fronts once again, thus proving that he is the right man for the job.
Given that Marvel Studios is now giving Coogler more responsibilities by developing spin-offs and the "direct sequel" series (Ironheart), it seems that the higher-ups are trusting him with his vision and desire to expand the MCU in more ways than one.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is set to premiere in theaters on Friday, November 11.