Winston Duke has officially confirmed his return in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. In the original Black Panther movie, Duke appeared in the role of M'Baku alongside the late Chadwick Boseman as T'Challa. Boseman passed away following a years-long battle with cancer during pre-production on the sequel, though the filmmakers and Marvel Studios have since agreed to continue work on Black Panther 2 in his memory.
Though the movie won't have Boseman, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is expected to bring back many of the other original stars. It was expected that Winston Duke would return as M'Baku, though that hadn't yet been officially confirmed by the actor. Speaking about the sequel in a new interview with Deadline, Duke verified his involvement while adding that reading the screenplay was an emotional experience. From the interview:
"It was very emotional to read the script. It was emotional to pack to go back to set. But we're all a bit of a family now and we grieve together, and we're making something really special."
Ryan Coogler directs Black Panther: Wakanda Forever using a screenplay co-written with Joe Robert Cole. Kevin Feige produces. Production began in late June in Atlanta, Georgia, with additional filming expected to later take place in Worcester, Massachusetts.
Along with Duke as M'Baku, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will star Lupita Nyong'o as Nakia, Danai Gurira as Okoye, Martin Freeman as Everett K. Ross, Letitia Wright as Shuri, and Angela Bassett as Ramonda. At this time, plot details are still tightly under wraps, so it remains unclear how the new movie will address T'Challa's absence. We know that he won't be featured in the movie as Marvel's Kevin Feige has said the role won't be recast, nor will Boseman be digitally inserted into the movie with CGI.
"Chadwick Boseman was an immensely talented actor and an inspirational individual who affected all of our lives professionally and personally," Feige said at Disney's investor presentation in December. "His portrayal of T'Challa the Black Panther is iconic and transcends any iteration of the character in any other medium from Marvel's past. And it's for that reason that we will not recast the character. However, to honor the legacy that Chad helped us build through his portrayal of the king of Wakanda, we want to continue to explore the world and all the rich and varied characters introduced in the first film."
The world of Wakanda will further expand with a separate TV series project for Disney+. It was reported in May that Danai Gurira would be starring as Okoye in a prequel series set before the events of the Black Panther movies. This followed previous reports that Coogler had been tapped to develop a new series set in Wakanda for Disney+, though no major details were given at the time.
"Ryan Coogler is a singular storyteller whose vision and range have made him one of the standout filmmakers of his generation," Disney executive chairman Bob Iger said in February. "With Black Panther, Ryan brought a groundbreaking story and iconic characters to life in a real, meaningful and memorable way, creating a watershed cultural moment. We're thrilled to strengthen our relationship and look forward to telling more great stories with Ryan and his team."
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is scheduled to be released on July 8, 2022. You can watch the original movie on Disney+. This news comes to us from Collider.