Anticipation for "Wakanda Forever," the sequel to the 2018 blockbuster and critically acclaimed superhero film "Black Panther," is reaching new heights after its first trailer was released last weekend.
Oakland native Ryan Coogler returns to direct "Wakanda Forever," hoping to duplicate the success of the first film, which became a worldwide phenomenon and is the only Marvel Studios movie ever nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Coogler was also nominated for Best Director for his work on Black Panther, which was partially set in Oakland.
"It's going to be a tough uphill battle, but I’m seeing people are very excited about this trailer, I'm seeing a lot of fans getting excited about what’s to come in Wakanda Forever," Dr. Sheena Howard, Professor of Communication at Rider University and editor of the book, "Why Wakanda Matters," told KCBS Radio’s Melissa Culross and Eric Thomas on Wednesday. "So I think they’ll be able to pull it off, but by taking the franchise in a bit of a different direction."
The trailer for "Wakanda Forever" was released Saturday night, and accumulated 172 million views in the first 24 hours across online platforms, making it one of Marvel’s top trailer debuts ever, as first reported by Variety, despite it launching at a suboptimal time of the week for internet traffic.
Fans are eager to see how the sequel reckons with the death of Chadwick Boseman, who starred as King T'Challa, the franchise’s titular character, in the first film and across the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Boseman died of colon cancer in August 2020.
Marvel decided not to recast the role of T'Challa, which producer Nate Moore previously said was because the character was so "tied to (Boseman's) performance." While little remains known about the upcoming film, the trailer did give hints about how the movie addresses the tragic situation.
"We do see at the beginning of the trailer that Wakanda is going to be grieving," Howard said. "So it will acknowledge the passing of T’Challa in a very impactful and meaningful way which I think the fans would appreciate going forward into the second movie."
"Wakanda Forever" will also attempt to carry on Black Panther's powerful legacy of diversity as one of the first major superhero films ever to have an almost entirely Black cast.
"I think the movie, $1 billion worldwide, just shows that movies with African American leads who are superheroes do sell. That was the myth that the industry tried to sell us for years and years," Howard explained. "We see that Black Panther has shattered that myth and moving forward, it's okay for our superheroes to be diverse in the box office."
"Wakanda Forever" opens in theaters on Nov. 11.