"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" has been out for a few weeks now, but as it continues to top the box office, some people are just now getting around to seeing it and/or weighing in. That includes filmmaker Barry Jenkins, who won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for "Moonlight" before making "If Beale Street Could Talk" and the Prime Video miniseries "The Underground Railroad."
Jenkins, as the story goes, moved to L.A. to pursue a career in moviemaking four days after he graduated from the Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts. As a fellow FSU alum, I'm always interested to hear what he has to say, even when it relates to the simple matter of what he calls "the requisite thrill-ride of super humans dodging lasers and spears." There's a lot more to "Wakanda Forever" than that, of course, which may be what prompted Jenkins to dig into the movie in a Twitter thread over the weekend.
Jenkins began by saying he was rendered "speechless" by the "impossible task" that "Wakanda Forever" director Ryan Coogler and his cast and crew pulled off in delivering a sequel to "Black Panther" after the untimely death of the film's star, Chadwick Boseman. Alluding to Boseman's absence, which can be felt all throughout "Wakanda Forever," Jenkins wrote, "The absence is acknowledged and the presence created in that acknowledgment is beyond moving. Seeing this, there is no way that role being recast would have been more thoughtful or honorable than this."
'I Never Imagined A Marvel Film Would Provide The Space To See Such Engagement'
Jenkins called Tenoch Huerta's portrayal of Namor, a character whose comic book origin is reframed in terms of Mayan culture, "a rewarding gambit" in "Wakanda Forever." Alluding again to Boseman and his "Black Panther" protagonist, T'Challa, Jenkins also keyed in on how "the Mesoamerican film within the film runs hand in hand with the mourning of both man and character as the movie's beating heart." He further discussed how the Marvel Studios sequel acts as an aspirational movie corrective of sorts to the real-life suppression of Mayan culture by the Spanish Inquisitor Diego de Landa, writing:
"I've spoken about the brief time I spent in the Yucatan and having the space to engage with the Maya and their legacy. I never imagined a Marvel film would provide the space to see such engagement spread out before an audience of global MILLIONS; people communally hearing the Mayan language Diego de Landa sought to eradicate by torture and fire in settings he could NEVER imagine."
Before he made the first "Black Panther," Ryan Coogler got his start on lower-budget collaborations with Killmonger actor Michael B. Jordan on "Fruitvale Station" and "Creed." Toward the end of his thread, Jenkins revealed a personal connection to Coogler, who he recalled sitting across from at a cafe "a few weeks before FRUITVALE would premiere" at the Sundance Film Festival. "I don't think either of us anticipated the ten years that have followed," he concluded, "but the same cat I sat across from that night made this film with the same energy, the same thoughtfulness."
"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" is in theaters now.
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