The production of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever just can’t seem to catch a break. After already enduring a months-long delay, work on Black Panther 2 was once again delayed because of an unsurprising culprit. COVID-19 has reared its ugly head among the highly anticipated sequel’s leading cast as well as its crew.
In a story about how production schedules are faring during the rise of the Omicron variant, The Hollywood Reporter made mention of Black Panther 2 once more being delayed. According to THR, production restarted in Atlanta last week, only to get halted again after members of both cast and crew tested positive for COVID-19. In fact, in the first full week of 2022, Lupita Nyong’o — who will reprise her role as Nakia in the sequel — took to twitter to announce she had tested positive. According to Yahoo, the diagnosis forced her to take a break from the press tour for her spy film, The 355.
The good news is that THR also reports that production was scheduled to restart on Black Panther 2 this week, and as of yet there’s no indication that the production delays will means further hold ups in the sequel’s release. Last year, Marvel pushed almost its entire slate of post-2021 films back. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was previously scheduled to release on July 8, but it’s since been pushed back to November 11 — the date previously held by The Marvels.
As far as we know, Black Panther 2 was first delayed after Shuri actress Letitia Wright was injured while filming in Atlanta. While the story emerged in August, at the time it was reported that after Wright briefly visited the hospital, it was determined the injury wasn’t serious and the filming schedule wouldn’t be affected. At some point between August and November, something clearly changed, because it was during the latter month that it was reported Black Panther: Wakanda Forever would shut down production starting with the week of Thanksgiving, to give Wright time to recover in London.
At the time there was some concern that Wright’s stay in London would cause Black Panther 2 to be delayed further. In November, the CDC instituted a new rule requiring all non-immigrant, non-citizens flying into the US to be vaccinated. Because Wright has reportedly been open about her anti-vaccination views, there was worry this would mean the actress wouldn’t be allowed to re-enter the country in 2022. However, with Wright now confirmed to have returned to production, apparently any issues were dealt with.
The fact that Wright’s absence caused Black Panther 2 to be delayed has served to fuel speculation that — as her character Shuri did for a time in the comics — her character will succeed the late Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa as Wakanda’s new Black Panther. At the very least, it would seem to confirm that Wright will have a much larger role than she did in the first film. A letter from Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige and other producers sent to Wakanda Forever‘s cast and crew about the production delay read, among other things, “there’s only so much we can do without Shuri!” Hopefully, we’ll get to find out for sure on November 11, provided there aren’t too many delays on a production that has already suffered its share.