Aside from its now-confirmed November 2022 release date, details about the highly-anticipated sequel to Marvel’s Black Panther have been kept largely under wraps. But thanks to star Danai Gurira, we now know a little more about Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. While walking the red carpet at the 2022 Met Gala, Gurira made rare comments about the sequel, which wrapped filming in March. “We poured everything we had into it,” The Walking Dead star said after taking an emotional beat.
The Black Panther cast and crew, including director Ryan Coogler, were faced with the unimaginable task of continuing on with the film after their lead, Chadwick Boseman, died from colon cancer in August 2020, just months before filming the sequel. “It tells a very heart wrenching story,” Gurira, who plays Okoye, general of the Dora Milaje in Black Panther, said. “And that is all I can say!” There is still no word as to whether Boseman’s King T’Challa will be written out of the film, or how. But Gurira’s admission that the story will be “heart wrenching” is one of the few hints we’ve gotten that the grief the cast and crew experienced while filming will be somehow reflected on screen. “We hope… that it resonates for everybody the way it does for us,” she said. “It’s all about [Chadwick] for all of us. It's all an outpouring to love and honor him."
Danai’s comments come on the heels of Marvel unveiling first-look footage from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever at CinemaCon. According to film writer Erik Davis, the footage “included a great shot of Nakia, Shuri [and] Okoye all on the front line of what looked like a major battle approaching.” After the production has been plagued with injuries, delays, and vaccine controversy (it was rumoured that Letitia Wright, who plays Shuri, was unvaccinated after she made since-deleted anti-vax comments on social media), it’s a relief to know the film release date is confirmed and our faves will be back in Wakanda come November.
We all know Wakanda is a fictional African country but Gurira took inspiration from the real continent for her Met Gala look. Wearing a Head of State gown, Gurira sung the praises of its designer, Taofeek Abijako. “This is an amazing young designer. He’s only 23 years old and started this when he was only 17,” Gurira told E! News. “He’s [a] Nigeria-born American and so it’s this beautiful intersection of culture — the expression of it and celebration of it which I love because I am also intercultural in various ways. It was just a very organic connection. I’m very excited to celebrate his work today. He’s very special.”
Gurira also explained the meaning behind her unique accessory. “This is a little wink-wink to our shared African culture and heritage,” she said of the matching fly whisk she donned with her gown. “[Fly whisks are] used a lot by very royal-type of folks on the continent as they walk and, you know, meet the people.” Fly whisks were carried in various African countries, including Ethiopa, as “prestige regalia and during masquerades. Important people had attendants to shoo away pesky insects or may have used the whisks to emphasize both gestures and spoken words,” according to the National Museum of African Art.
Fly whisks were worn in the early to mid-19th century, which fits perfectly in with the Met Gala’s 2022 theme of “Gilded Glamour,” where attendees were asked to celebrate — or make a commentary of — the Gilded Age of New York. Many celebs did not understand the assignment, but with this attention to detail, it’s clear that Gurira did.
With reporting by Alexis Jackson.