Editors note: Deadline’s Read the Screenplay series debuts and celebrates the scripts of films that will factor in this year’s movie awards races.
In 2020, the tragic loss of Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman sent writer-director Ryan Coogler into a tailspin. While in the early stages of pre-production for the anticipated sequel that would become Marvel/Disney’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Coogler nearly quit filmmaking altogether.
“I was at a point where I was like, ‘I’m walking away from this business,’” Coogler said in a recent interview. “I didn’t know if I could make another movie [or] another Black Panther movie because it hurt a lot. I was like, ‘Man, how could I open myself up to feeling like this again?’”
In an interview with Deadline, Coogler would go on to explain that it was through rewatching old footage or reminiscing about the 2018 Black Panther press tour — namely a Time magazine cover shoot that included him and Boseman — that rekindled his passion for working again. “[That] shoot is one of my fondest memories, hanging out with him while we were promoting [the first] film. He was just chill,” Coogler said. “So, it just reminded me that I wanted to have something, while we were making the film, to remind us what we were doing it for. He was a big deal for us, and it was great to bring the world in on how we felt about him.”
Co-written with Joe Robert Cole, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is an emotionally resonant film where the impact of T’Challa’s death is felt not only by his native Wakandans but also by the world at large. In the movie, the kingdom of Wakanda finds itself under attack by world leaders and a seafaring tribe of indigenous warriors as they navigate the tremendous loss of Boseman’s King T’Challa. Shuri (Letitia Wright), Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) and the Dora Milaje must find the strength to forge a new path for their nation.
Coogler and Cole had the nearly insurmountable task of penning a script that could somehow move the story forward without its titular character. Luckily, the result was a powerful film about the effects of grief, loss and finding the strength to carry on in spite of it all.
The film opened in November and has grossed $442 million domestically and $823.8 million worldwide, making it No. 6 on the list of top-grossing movies in 2022.
Click below to read the script for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, with its working title at the time “Summer Break.”