‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ celebrates diverse culture and heritage

“Wakanda Forever,” the sequel to Marvel Studios’ $1.3 billion award-winning film “Black Panther,” had its African premiere in Nigeria, the first time Marvel has held an African premiere there.

Attending the event in Lagos on Sunday, November 6, the film’s director, Ryan Coogler, and several prominent actors spoke to CNN about the importance of celebrating the film in Africa’s most populous country, and how they hope to continue exploring different cultures and history will affect global audiences.

The film follows the death in 2020 of Chadwick Boseman, who played King T’Challa – the Black Panther – in the original film, released in 2018.

With the introduction of new anti-hero Namor, the king of the underwater kingdom Talokan, who breaks through Wakanda’s defenses while the country is still reeling from the loss of T’Challa, “Wakanda Forever” introduces another mythical and powerful nation, this time with roots in Mayan culture.

Coogler, who also wrote the script, said introducing another rich heritage was planned when he began developing the idea for the sequel in 2018. “We wanted to heighten it by making it more culturally specific, more detailed, more personal. . And even after Chadwick died, we stayed the course. I was talking to him before he died and I was excited about the direction the movie was going,” Coogler said.

“Our diversity is our strength”

The 2018 film was one of Africa’s highest-grossing films, with audiences responding favorably to the kingdom of Wakanda, which represented an amalgamation of African countries and cultures and an ideology of one Africa that many they would like to see

Lupita Nyong’o, the Kenyan-Mexican actress who plays Wakanda spy Nakia, told CNN that she hopes global audiences will connect with the diversity on display in the film. “There is power in a diverse human experience,” he said. “I think it’s always good to be able to relate to people who don’t look like you and see your humanity in them. Our diversity is our strength as human beings.”

(L to R) Actor Tenoch Huerta, director Ryan Coogler and his wife Zinzi Evans and actors Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira and Letitia Wright arrive at the African premiere of the film ‘Black Panther : Wakanda Forever” in Lagos on November 6, 2022. Credit: PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/AFP via Getty Images

Nyong’o and her co-star, Zimbabwean-American actress and writer Danai Gurira, attended the South African premiere of Black Panther in 2018, and it’s meaningful to them that more of the cast is coming to the continent that they call home “There is always a comfort that comes back to the continent. We are very different in Africa, but there is also a direct line,” Nyong’o said. “There is something that feels more familiar, more accessible and I love that.”

The film’s score and soundtrack also celebrate the cultures championed in the film, with a mix of Latin American and African artists such as Grammy-winning Nigerian artist Burna Boy, Ghana’s Amaarae, the British artist Stormzy, whose mother is Ghanaian, and the Nigerian Grammy nominee. singer-songwriter Tems, who co-wrote the lead single “Lift me up,” sung by Rihanna. The soundtrack was recorded in Nigeria, Mexico and London.

Gurira, who reprises her role as General Okoye, the leader of the Dora Milaje, Wakanda’s all-female army, said of the premiere: “This feels like massive progress that so many of us are here this time. I’m so excited to do it. to be here and I think it’s different than being in the United States or the West because the history is so rooted in the continent that the idea of ​​celebrating it here in a big way is right.”

Also in attendance were actors Winston Duke, who plays M’baku, leader of the Jabari tribe, Letitia Wright, who plays Princess Shuri, the tech genius, and Tenoch Huerta as Namor. The premiere was one of the opening films of the International African Film Festival (AFRIFF), which will run until November 12.

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” opens in theaters worldwide on November 11.

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