Danai Gurira on the action and emotion of 'Wakanda Forever'

Marvel Studios

The sequel Black Panther: Wakanda Forever again reigned atop the box office over this weekend, with a worldwide take that’s closing in on the $550 million mark.

For actress Danai Gurira, who reprises as Dora Milaje leader Okoye, the movie was an emotional rollercoaster, set off, naturally, by the 2020 death of her “brother,” Black Panther lead Chadwick Boseman.

Her loss played into how unmoored Okoye comes to feel in the film, The Walking Dead veteran recently explained at a press event. Wakanda Forever sees the seemingly invincible Okoye not only defeated in combat but stripped of her status as general of the queen’s guard, and banished by Angela Bassett‘s grieving Queen Ramonda.

In the movie’s early action scenes, Okoye goes toe to webbed feet with a group of Talokanil warriors, finding the super-powered undersea dwellers too much for even her. The fight required extensive training, as did the movie’s underwater fight scenes — which earned a laugh from the actress in retrospect.

Gurira admits with a smile, “Well, you know, there are two sides of me. You know, there’s the side that, you know, gets it, and the side that’s like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Really? Do we have to?’ … And then the other side took over and understood that this was actually great. And I’m very thankful for the idea that these characters get to explore so many facets of their humanness.”

She explains, “I think that that is something that is crucial, honestly, with a platform this unprecedented is that we see…the kaleidoscope of their humanness and the world gets to see that because it isn’t very common. You know, we don’t get to see that do that much [in movies].”

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