“Wakanda Forever” Interview: Ryan Coogler Says Decisions Had Nothing To Do With Gender

by Shaye Wyllie
wakanda forever women

“Black Panther 2: Wakanda Forever” hasn’t even hit theaters yet, and fans of the sequel are already wondering why it seems like the sequel favors a certain gender. As if men haven’t reigned the superhuman world for centuries before this.

Hell, someone even commented on my Wakanda Forever TikTok review, asking “Where are all the men”, as if they just up and disappeared out of Wakanda. *insert rolling eyes emoji here* See the video below.

@shayewyllie Replying to @ufmsanfrancisco So #RyanCoogler addressed this during the #WakandaForever press conference because someone asked him why the women of #Wakanda seemed “front & center” in #BlackPanther2. Hope this helps. #blackpantherwakandaforever #movietiktokers #movietok #blackpanther2wakandaforever ♬ Lift Me Up – From Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – Music From and Inspired By – Rihanna

Another TikToker stopped to comment on the video above that it was “foul swapping out men for women.” “Why is this happening!”, she cried. To that of course I laughed, because … folks haven’t even seen the film yet and they’re already fake outraged. Jesus.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying “Wakanda Forever” is perfect, but please miss me with the bullshit today about how the sequel doesn’t include Black men and the political agenda Ryan Coogler is creating because of this.

Relax! Again, is Marvel paying y’all? Just because a film features its women more heavily in its sequel, doesn’t mean there’s some agenda at play — or that they’re trying to erase the men altogether. What would be the reason!!?

But if you’re wondering where all the men went in “Wakanda Forever”, Ryan Coogler said something so damn profound at the press conference, I almost jumped outta my seat.

When explaining how his decision to put women front and center in “Wakanda Forever” had absolutely nothing to do with gender, Coogler said that grief is “like a bomb that goes off” and “you know, when you lose somebody, there’s, like, a blast radius”. So those that are the closest to the bomb when it goes off, get hurt the most!

So when T’Challa died, he had to think about who would be impacted the most by that “bomb” going off — and of course, that makes total sense on why “Wakanda Forever” highlights the women of Wakanda.

Ryan goes on to explain that, “the main characters [and] their identities were kinda wrapped up in this man, you know”. “Every day [Shuri] was alive, she had her brother. So when she lost him, you know … what we discovered while we were working on the script, and then eventually bringing it to life with the actors … was that she really lost her sense of self. You know, she identified herself as this guy’s little sister, you know what I mean? And as his protector and as the person who looks out for him.”

“It wasn’t really about gender, directly, you know what I mean?”, Coogler continues. “It was about who was the most … you know … who would be most affected, you know?” And yes, I totally get it!

I too was frustrated with Ryan, just like Lupita (despite her frustrations being for a whole different reason) after watching “Wakanda Forever” because I had my own perceived connotations of the film after my first viewing. But after listening to Ryan Coogler speak about what he really wanted from this sequel, it’s evident that he went into this clear-headed. Coogler took the time to think about how everyone would be affected by this death, including the audience.

Not to mention, “M’Baku was in this movie more than he was in the first Black Panther. I think probably, like, a two to one ratio. You know, he probably has twice as many scenes as he had in the first one”. And that’s a direct quote from the writer and director himself! Not a guess, thank you very much.

However, I will say, without spoilers, a few other men from the first film show up as well. There’s even a scene towards the end that I love with our men and women showing up on screen! Of course, we all know that Daniel Kaluuya had to step out to film Jordan Peele’s third feature film “Nope“. But I’m not sure why people think they’re erasing Black men.

So contrary to what you may believe, this isn’t about erasing Black men, or saying Black women can do it all on their own! It’s about how when this Black man died, his family was who felt the most pain! Yeah, the country is in an uproar at the moment, and yes they feel his loss. But his sister, his mother, and the love of his life — those are the people that the story focuses in on because they’re the ones left to pick up the pieces.

And it’s really just that simple.

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 11, 2022. 

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