'Black Panther' Editor Reveals When Director Ryan Coogler Made Sequel Plans

"It’s all on Ryan's shoulders to write now."

To hear one of Black Panther’s film editors tell the story, director Ryan Coogler was already making plans for the sequel when the first movie was still in production. Long before the film became a tremendous financial and critical success, its director had hopeful plans for the future. In that context, Black Panther 2 being quietly confirmed in October becomes even less surprising, but also even more exciting at the same time.

Michael Shawver, who edited Black Panther alongside Marvel Studios’ Debbie Berman, has been working with director Ryan Coogler for more than a decade. In an interview, he tells Inverse how the award-winning director is working towards Black Panther 2.

Shawver and Coogler first met in University of Southern California film school, where they quickly became friends, working together on student film projects. Since then, Shawver’s worked as the principal editor on all of Coogler’s films, from Fruitvale Station to Creed and even Black Panther.

Currently, Shawver’s working on a new Liam Neeson movie called Honest Thief, but he was benevolent enough to talk briefly with us about prospects for Black Panther 2.

He couldn’t divulge specifics, but he did confirm that Coogler was planning for more Black Panther even before the first was finished production. Here’s a section of that interivew.


'Black Panther' director Ryan Coogler with star Chadwick Boseman.
'Black Panther' director Ryan Coogler with star Chadwick Boseman.

What sort of projects are you working on now? What’s next for you?

Right now I’m on a movie called Honest Thief. It’s a movie starring Liam Neeson directed by a guy named Mark Williams. Compared to Black Panther, it’s obviously a much smaller movie. It’s about a bank robber looking for redemption — but it’s also about relationships, life, interpersonal conflict. That’s the kind of movie I cut my teeth on with Fruitvale Station, so it’s nice to get back to that kind of thing.

What’s really cool is that after going through something insanely amazing as Black Panther, going back to these kinds of movies, I’m finding out what I learned as an editor and how I’ve grown, how to fix certain issues, what to focus on, lines we could cut, or even how to reorganize scenes.

I would love to do more movies on a bigger scale, though. You know, obviously there’s Black Panther 2, which isn’t for a few years. I don’t even know when it’s happening exactly. It’s all on Ryan’s shoulders to write now. But hopefully, that’s going to happen.

I kind of see it as my job to just get better so that I can help make that movie even better.

Do you know for sure whether or not you’ll be involved in Black Panther 2?

I hope so. I can’t say for sure because I haven’t signed a contract or anything. I haven’t seen anything official. I mean, anything could happen. But if it goes all the way, then Ryan would want me on there. I would have no reason to think otherwise. Our relationship has only gotten get stronger over time.

There were times on the first one, we would be joking and Ryan would say, “Man, if they ever let me make let us make a sequel to this, you know, we could do this!” That kind of thing.

And it was all speculation at the time because this was also way before we were even staring at the scenes on the wall and thinking, “Is anybody going to even like this movie?”

So I can’t say for sure because I don’t know for sure. But if it goes, I’m hoping we’ll get the same team because you know, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.

Danai Gurira and 'Black Panther' director Ryan Coogler.
Danai Gurira and 'Black Panther' director Ryan Coogler.

That makes sense given the film’s tremendous success. I’d imagine most of the same people would return. Is there anything else you want me to know about your experiences on Black Panther?

Making it was really a conversation.

I just want to say working with Debbie was amazing. It doesn’t always work out when you’re working with someone, especially for the first time.

As an editor, you have to find ownership over the movie to be able to do those late nights, early mornings, and see this thing through for a year and a half. We really balanced each other out and lifted each other up. She’s my partner in crime. It really was a team effort. We’re a filmmaking family.


Black Panther was nominated for seven Academy Awards, and the ceremony will occur on Sunday, February 24 at 8 p.m. Eastern.

Media via Matt Kennedy / Marvel Studios, Marvel Studios