The cast of the Marvel Studios sequel discusses the challenges of coming back for the new film.

By Stephanie Holland

We’ve all been not-so-patiently waiting for the first footage from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, so when it dropped at San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday, it’s no surprise the world went crazy.

According to Variety, the video was an instant hit, grabbing 172 million views in 24 hours, making it one of Marvel’s most successful trailer debuts ever. The film also took over social media with #WakandaForever reigning as the top hashtag for five consecutive hours, while other topics like “Chadwick Boseman,” “Namor,” “Shuri,” “T’Challa,” “Ryan Coogler” and “Angela Bassett” were trending throughout the night.

Among Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, Wakanda Forever comes in behind recent blockbusters Spider-Man: No Way Home, which has the biggest ever trailer debut with 355.5 million views, and Thor: Love and Thunder’s teaser at 209 million. Black Panther 2 also trails the Avengers: Endgame teaser at 289 million, the Avengers: Endgame final trailer with 268 million, the Avengers: Infinity War teaser with 230 million and the Avengers: Infinity War final trailer with 179 million.

Photo: Walt Disney Studios

As part of Marvel’s big Comic-Con rollout, many of the film’s stars walked the red carpet ahead of the studio’s panel. They spoke about making the movie amidst the challenges of COVID-19, Letitia Wright’s on-set injury and the passing of leading man Chadwick Boseman.

“The most important thing, of course, was honoring our brother, our leader, and our king,” Danai Gurira, who plays Okoye, told Entertainment Weekly. “That was definitely at the forefront of our minds and our spirits and our hearts. There was this amazing impact that the first Black Panther had, so the need, I think, was to really solidify that these characters and this world have an arc. It wasn’t a one-time momentous thing.”

Black Panther was such a cultural phenomenon, with its billion-dollar box office far exceeding anyone’s expectations. This means the highly-anticipated sequel has a lot to live up to.

“It’s also important to let go of any expectation that this movie will be Black Panther 1,” Winston Duke said. “This is going to be its own thing. This narrative has evolved, and it’s changed, just like all the characters and the circumstances of Wakanda itself. For me in particular, I just had to let go of the expectation of this being anything like the first movie and allow this movie to be its own thing.”

As per usual, we know next to nothing about the film’s plot. However, the official synopsis tells us that “Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), Shuri (Letitia Wright), M’Baku (Winston Duke), Okoye (Danai Gurira) and the Dora Milaje (including Florence Kasumba), fight to protect their nation from intervening world powers in the wake of King T’Challa’s death. As the Wakandans strive to embrace their next chapter, the heroes must band together with the help of War Dog Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) and Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) and forge a new path for the kingdom of Wakanda.”

Photo: Walt Disney Studios

“It’s been a doozy of a few years for everybody,” Lupita Nyong’o told The Hollywood Reporter. “For us as a cast, having lost our king, Chadwick Boseman, that was a lot to process, and in many ways, we’re still processing it. When you lose someone, I don’t know when you stop missing them. And of course, we felt it so much, making this film without him.”

“To make this film against all odds is a powerful statement unto itself, and I am very proud that we did it,” she added. “It was very therapeutic. It restored a sense of hope for me in making it, and I think we’ve expanded the world of Wakanda in ways that will blow people’s minds—not just Wakanda, but the Black Panther world. It’s gonna blow people’s minds, and I just cannot wait until it’s not a secret anymore.”

As for who the new Black Panther will be, it seems we’ll all have to wait until the movie’s release to find out.

“Don’t you just love a good secret,” the Oscar-winner teased.

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