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Black Panther 2 Co-Writer Discusses The Movie’s Big Surprise Return

The recently released Black Panther: Wakanda Forever featured the return of a familiar face, one that surprised audiences, and one that co-writer Joe Robert Cole knew he needed to have back.

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For those unaware, the sequel to the critically acclaimed Black Panther sees Shuri (Letitia Wright) return to the Ancestral Plane after ingesting her newly created Heart-Shaped Herb. Instead of certain family, however, she sees none other than Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger. According to Cole in an interview with Rolling Stone, he always knew he wanted to have the actor return, but finding out how to achieve it was difficult.

“We always wanted to have Michael return, and I feel like it was always going to be in the ancestral plane with Shuri having taken the potion,” said Cole. “The question was always like, how do you achieve the thing I think that you’re talking about? How do you make it more than just more than just, everyone’s excited because Michael’s amazing, and the character’s amazing? How is it relevant to Shuri’s journey and become a pivot point for her character?”

Cole went on to say that the key to finding that point was remembering that Killmonger’s motivations in the first film were largely vengeance-based, and that mirrored some of what Shuri was going through in the sequel.

“Then if you think about it, [in the first movie] his journey was about vengeance as well, and anger and frustration,” Cole said. “That’s a part of what we tried to lay in with her early on, the anger of losing someone, the sense of loss. And then how losing her mother would escalate her feelings of wanting vengeance. We just tried to build on that, so that he is presenting her with a choice of: Is she going to move towards the direction that Killmonger would move? Or is she going to do something different? The idea was to successfully build the stakes for her so that would resonate. So it would feel earned that she would feel that sort of [yearning for] vengeance.”

Finally, Cole also spoke about how Killmonger’s thoughts of Wakanda — including his anger that they had not helped out any other countries and remained isolated — did play a big role in the sequel, especially with Angela Bassett’s Queen Ramonda being the opposite of Killmonger in many ways.

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“But one thing I also really loved about the Killmonger scene that we found was his point of view about how he changed Wakanda,” said Cole. “Killmonger came in and spoke to the question of, Am I my brother’s keeper? And how Wakanda had not looked out for the globe. Here you have Ramonda the Queen, who is diametrically opposed — she was much more isolationist than T’Challa was — who saves RiRi, this African-American teenager. There is an argument that prior to Killmonger, that might not have happened. So were able to make that scene not only relevant to Shuri’s character, but also relevant to the nation of Wakanda.”

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is now available to watch in theaters.


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