The team behind Black Panther: Wakanda Forever faced a truly difficult challenge in bringing their superhero sequel to the screen. Not only did they have to mount a follow-up worthy of its Oscar-winning predecessor, but they had to do so without star Chadwick Boseman, who played the title role before his death in 2020.
What emerged is a story about grief, legacy, and finding a way forward after experiencing unimaginable loss. At the center of the saga is Angela Bassett's Queen Ramonda, who is forced to grapple with the loss of her son, Boseman's T'Challa, while defending the nation of Wakanda from those who wish to capitalize on his death. For her performance, Bassett received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress, her first nomination since being nominated for Best Actress for the 1993 Tina Turner biopic What's Love Got to Do with It.
"Coming back to this character that you'd explored a bit before, that was a luxury," Bassett reflected during an Academy-hosted Q&A for the movie. "And then to have the opportunity to do even more than you did the first time, and have a lot on your shoulders, I felt and welcomed it — as the character, as Angela, as an actress, as an artist, as a collaborator."
"I had to sit on a throne that was inhabited by my son, and that was odd, you know?" she added with tears in her eyes. "You just had to approach it with grace, and humility, and with a mother’s fierceness."
At the 95th Oscars, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is up for five Oscars in total; also for Best Costume Design (Ruth E. Carter), Best Makeup and Hairstyling (Camille Friend and Joel Harlow), Best Original Song ("Lift Me Up," by Rihanna, Tems, Ryan Coogler and Ludwig Göransson) and Best Visual Effects (Geoffrey Baumann, Craig Hammack, R. Christopher White and Daniel Sudick).
Watch the full Academy Conversation below for more insight into the making of the Black Panther sequel from Bassett, Coogler, producer Nate Moore, writer Joe Robert Cole, and costume designer Carter.