A spoiler-packed interview with ‘Wakanda Forever’ co-screenwriter Joe Robert Cole reveals the key decisions behind the film – and previews his upcoming Snoop Dogg biopic
From writing a draft of the Wakanda Forever film for Ryan Coogler and Chadwick Boseman, to dealing with the loss of Boseman’s character, Co-writer Joe Robert Cole discusses his motivations. With spoilers ahead, this is one interview you don’t want to miss!
How did you realize you wanted to have a child with T’Challa?
We always knew that T’Challa had a son, but when Chad died, we were unsure how best to include him. After some twists and turns, we finally decided to reveal his existence at the end of the movie when Ramonda [Angela Bassett] goes to Haiti. At one point, there was talk about having him appear in the scene where she’s there and he could be revealed. The completed film has a number of satisfying reveals, but the one at the very end is particularly special because it introduces a completely new character and opens up so many possibilities for future films.
This scene made me cry, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. I assume his son was supposed to be a bigger part of the film before Chadwick passed away?
In a previous draft of the film, we had a heavier focus on the relationship between Kevin Flynn [in] and his son. We decided that this element wasn’t as important to the story, so it was cut down. There were also conversations about when Kate would discover his identity and how that leaves her feeling. Eventually we came to an agreement on what should happen in that scene, but he was never going to be a major part of the film after Chad passed away.
Would it be possible to publish the original script that you weren’t able to make? Maybe a graphic novel?
The truth is that I haven’t had any conversations about that. I don’t know how I’d feel about it. I don’t know how anyone feels about it. But I’m really proud of what we’ve done and how we’ve honored Chad. The film speaks for itself. Anything above that is outside my sphere of expertise.
How did the grieving process intersect with reworking the story after Chadwick died?
Chad shaped so much of the story, in a lot of ways, when we decided not to recast. We had an opportunity to weigh in on our thoughts a little bit too. I think we all felt that he shouldn’t be recast. Once the decision was made, his death became organic to the narrative and part of our story going forward. That exploration of how Wakanda dealt with him dying is what led us to explore who would be worthy as the next Black Panther and why we should see all these characters from another angle.
As a whole, that spoke to our personal situation with Chad, which was that we were all going through grief. During our attempt to move forward with the film, we were able to come up with a theme that spoke to what we were all going through, which was: How do you overcome loss? Ryan led the way in that regard, and we followed. How do you transform grief into something hopeful and aspirational?
During the remaking of the story, did you ever wonder whether Namor’s homeland would fit the new framework?
As Ryan mentioned, it was always part of the plan to expand the world of the first Black Panther movie to include another civilization, another community of color.