Some modifications were made to the screenplay for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and a new report details one subplot that was omitted.
There’s no denying that the makers of Black Panther 2 had a lot on their plate. In addition to addressing T’Challa’s death and legacy, the film also had to introduce new characters like Riri Williams and Namor and establish a new setting, the underwater city of Talokan, all within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Wakanda Forever’s ultimate duration was predictably over 2 hours and 50 minutes. The storyline of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever had to be prioritized in order to fit within the allotted time, and unfortunately, it meant removing certain material that involved the United States of America.
The cast and crew of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever spoke with Variety, and they discussed how the screenplay evolved during filming. Angela Bassett, the star, informed the media that the production schedule is not engraved in stone, even during shooting.
“It’s a process that’s still living and breathing — it’s not etched in stone, even as we began to shoot, even on the day of shooting. You just have to go with the flow.”
While the concept of a dynamic screenplay isn’t unprecedented for a Marvel Studios production, it does cause significant alterations to the film’s subplot. Wakanda Forever had a subplot where the U.S. had a larger part in the conflict between Wakanda and Talokan, but this was downplayed, according to Variety’s piece.
Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) and Val (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) were pivotal to this U.S. government subplot in the final edit of the sequel. Actress Letitia Wright had previously stated that there were “about 300 pages” in the script, so this was probably done to shorten it.
“I remember just hearing through the grapevine that even though Chadwick was really unwell, he was making fun of how long it was, because the script was about 300 pages. That’s Ryan’s process; he puts everything on the page, he sends it off to Chad, and they sit and discuss.”
Some elements of Wakanda Forever’s initial script did remain all the way throughout the process, in particular, Namor and his homeworld of Talokan.
Marvel Studios producer Nate Moore said it was Ryan Coogler’s intention that the same “amount of effort and love” go into reimagining Talokan as a futuristic civilization as it did with Wakanda.
“Ryan wanted to put the amount of effort and love in what is now Talokan in the same way he did with Wakanda. He was looking for another culture to serve as an anchor point, and to continue the conversation thematically about colonization and what that means.”
It’s not hard to imagine that the characters played by Martin Freeman and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Everett Ross, and Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, respectively, were given more screen time in earlier drafts of the script.
This film probably would have turned out very differently if the United States had been more actively engaged in the conflict. Wakanda Forever established a dynamic between the three nations, so it’s unlikely that we’ve seen the last of their conflict in the MCU.