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When you're lucky enough to have Angela Bassett in your cast, you use her to the fullest extent. Black Panther director Ryan Coogler took this to heart in the long-awaited sequel to the 2018 Marvel film, ensuring that the 64-year-old actress was in the spotlight for much of the film's first half. But Bassett had some reservations about Coogler's plans for Queen Ramonda in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and she wasn't afraid to let him know.
Read on below for major spoilers for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Wakanda Forever opens with the death of King T'Challa offscreen, keeping true to Marvel Studios' word that they wouldn't recast or digitally recreate T'Challa after the death of star Chadwick Boseman in 2020. In the wake of his passing, Bassett's Ramonda returns to her position as ruler of Wakanda, attempting to guide both her nation and her daughter Shuri (Letitia Wright) through their grief.
But Wakanda is also facing enemies on the surface and underwater, and the latter is much more deadly. Namor (Tenoch Huerta), the leader of a fantastical underwater world, Tālokān, initially offers an allyship with Wakanda but turns on the nation when his initial efforts are rejected, leading to a violent confrontation that will shape the future of both worlds. The attack ends with the death of Queen Ramonda, which spurs Shuri to finally embrace tradition and take on the Black Panther mantle to protect her home.
"I objected," Bassett told IndieWire about her initial reaction to her character's death. "Yeah, I was like, 'Ryan, what are you doing? Why? You will rue the day! You will rue the demise of [Ramonda]. People are gonna be so upset.'"
The actress shared that Coogler assured her by explaining "'to die is not really to die in this world. It doesn't really have to mean that.'"
She noted that, considering how characters reappeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe after their "death" often enough, it wasn't unthinkable that she and Queen Ramonda might be able to return again. Especially with Black Panther's use of the ancestral plane and the introduction to the multiverse in Phase 4. "All kinds of crazy things happen," Bassett said.
Considering how Bassett's performance has viewers and critics alike calling for her to score an Oscar nomination, it's safe to say that she would be welcomed back with open arms!
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is in theaters now.