Black Panther: Wakanda Forever director Ryan Coogler explains Rihanna’s involvement in the film. The upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe movie is the highly-anticipated sequel to the 2018 blockbuster by the same director, Black Panther. As the final film in the MCU’s Phase Four, the box office projections for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever are already nearing $200 million, promising another hit for Marvel. The film is also set to pay tribute to the first film’s lead, Chadwick Boseman, whose tragic passing due to colon cancer has been mourned both on- and off-screen since it occurred in 2020.
The success of Black Panther can be attributed to many factors, including Boseman’s exceptional performance and energy as T’Challa. The soundtrack, created in collaboration with musical artist Kendrick Lamar, was certainly also a component. Since the soundtrack for the first film was such a big hit with both critics and listeners, many have eagerly anticipated information on the sequel’s track list. After rumors of Rihanna’s casting in the film were debunked in 2020, it was recently announced that she would be emerging from her five-year musical hiatus to provide a ballad for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, called « Lift Me Up. »
At a recent press event attended by Screen Rant, Coogler spoke about the exciting news of Rihanna’s involvement in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Her ballad is a collaboration between the film’s composer Ludwig Göransson, Coogler himself, and Nigerian musical artist Tems, who also sings a cover of Bob Marley’s « No Woman, No Cry » on the soundtrack. See what Coogler had to say about working with Rihanna below:
« I can’t take sole credit for that. We have an incredible composer, Ludwig Göransson, who’s also a music producer and who’s got a great reputation. He made This is America with Childish Gambino, for instance. I think Ludwig was a major factor, and big thanks to Jay Brown at Roc Nation and Jay-Z, who’s a friend who helped make the connection. Look, Rihanna has given us a whole career and a whole catalog of music. And now she’s given us makeup and clothing, and I think the world would understand if she hung up her mic. I completely understand because I love her music so much, but I feel like she’s given all that you could ask for. But the truth is we were looking for a great artist who could tell the story of the film, embrace the themes of the film, and present them to the audience in a different packaging. That’s what Kendrick did so beautifully with the first film, and this film is different. It made sense that it would be a woman, and it made sense that it would be someone who could speak to not necessarily the words but the feeling of motherhood, because that’s a major theme in this film. And I think it timed up that she was in that kind of space in her life, and she was open. It was really the trailer, I think, when she saw the performances that everybody was putting down. That was what kind of put her over the edge and [made her] say, ‘Hey, I want to see this film. I want to see if I can figure this out.’ …But the truth is, once she played us the record, she said straight up, ‘I did this for Chad.’ It was him, man. And sitting here thinking about it, it’s hitting me right now… Chad brought us all together, you know what I mean? He just keeps on and keeps on giving. I’m just really thankful that Rihanna was the latest gift to join the family, and I can’t wait for folks to see how it’s used in the film. »
Rihanna’s New Song Is Just What Wakanda Forever Needs
After half a decade away from music, during which she has managed a highly successful brand and started a family, it’s exciting for fans of both Black Panther and Rihanna that the legendary singer has decided to return with a new song for one of the most-hyped films of the year. Her ballad will both honor Boseman and add another layer to the film, as Lamar’s soundtrack did in 2018. The combination of musical and visual storytelling will be enhanced by Rihanna’s powerful voice, and the explanation that she gave Coogler only adds to the reasons that she was the perfect addition to the soundtrack. Rihanna understood how important it was for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever to honor Boseman, and she sought to do just that. Additionally, with Coogler explaining that the themes and storylines present in the film will center the female characters as they grapple with the death of T’Challa, it makes sense to feature a female artist to bring everything together.
The fact that Rihanna was willing to return from a hiatus in order to produce a new song for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever shows just how much passion she has for both the ballad and the film. Coogler’s touching explanation of how she came to be included only makes it more special, displaying the enthusiasm and care that every person involved has for both Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and for honoring Boseman’s legacy. Viewers will already be lining up for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever due to the mystery of who will be the next to wear the Black Panther suit, the involvement of the mutant Namor (Tenoch Huerta), the inclusion of Ironheart (Dominique Thorne), and the success of the first movie; Rihanna’s new song just promises to bring even more people to the theater.