As the release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever nears and fans wait with bated breath to figure out how Ryan Coogler made a sequel to a mega-hit film whose lead actor passed away from cancer, the director, along with Letitia Wright and Angela Bassett, cast members of the sequel, opened up about dealing with the loss of Chadwick Boseman in a cover story for Variety.

The interview makes it clear that the actor’s death came as a huge blow to everyone associated with the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the upcoming Afrofuturistic film. This was mainly because no one, including Coogler, was aware that he had been diagnosed with cancer and had been fighting the disease since 2016.

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Wright, who plays T’Challa’s sister, Shuri, said, “I didn’t put the dots together,” adding, “Bro was very private. He wanted to always protect us. That’s all I can say.”

Bassett, on the other hand, said, “He did the thing he loved until his last breath, no excuses.” She will reprise her role as T’Challa and Shuri’s mother, Queen Ramonada, in the upcoming film.

Bassett went on to add, “We’ve been managing it or dealing with it or growing from it or moving onward from the moment that we heard Chadwick had passed”. “It’s been two years of going through whatever cycles of grief that human beings go through”, she said.

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Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will be set in a time after the death of T’Challa, and this will be a time skip for MCU, which had other ideas in mind in regard to Boseman’s character. The movie’s story is expected to revolve around how Wakanda copes with the death of their beloved king, and in a way will act as a metaphor for how fans and the MCU are dealing with the loss of Boseman.

This sentiment was also echoed by Coogler, who said, “For us on that movie, the interpersonal and the professional are fused together, which happens sometimes,” further adding, “It’s a human thing. We caught it with the cameras.”