Entertainment

Black Panther 2 release date likely delayed, but not for the reason you think

Letitia Wright is reportedly absent from the Marvel set in Atlanta, where Covid-19 continues to be a serious problem.

Marvel

The Marvel Universe is already full of villains and multiversal monsters, but the biggest trouble for the MCU is the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The sequel to 2018’s Black Panther, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, could very well be moved to 2023 thanks to the continued spread of Covid-19 in the metro Atlanta area where Marvel films its movies.

What Happened? — On Thursday, known Twitter paparazzo Atlanta Filming (@AtlantaFilming), who observes major Atlanta movie productions, tweeted about star Letitia Wright’s absence from the set of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

“People keep asking the same question. Normally, I would not do this, but I will this time,” began the tweet. “Letisha [sic] was scheduled to return over the weekend. As far as I know she did not come in. [Black Panther] isnt supposed to restart until next week but I don't know if that is delayed because of Omicron.”

It should be said that Atlanta Filming themselves say “I am not a source” in their Twitter bio.

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As of now, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is scheduled to open in theaters on November 11, 2022. In theory, the movie can continue filming this month and make its November release. But realistically, further delays will exacerbate the already arduous post-production process, which includes complex VFX work that Marvel movies need in bushels. Every day the cameras aren’t rolling increases the odds of a delay into 2023.

Letitia Wright, who starred in 2018’s Black Panther and is expected to return in a more prominent role in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, has been at the center of controversy regarding alleged anti-vaccination views.Marvel Studios

All of this is happening because of the continued spread of Covid-19 and its Omicron variant. The state of Georgia is being hit particularly hard; six Atlanta hospitals recently assembled to ask the public to contain the spread.

It doesn’t help that Letitia Wright has expressed fringe opinions on vaccinations. In 2020, the actress used Twitter to share an hour-long YouTube video that contained skepticism of the Covid-19 vaccine’s efficacy, among other conspiracy theories.

Wright later deleted the video, saying on Twitter, “my intention was not to hurt anyone, my ONLY intention of posting the video was it raised my concerns with what the vaccine contains and what we are putting in our bodies,” and “I think it’s valid and fair to simply ask what’s in it.” Explanations of the vaccine’s safe contents are common.

Wright has publicly insisted she is not against vaccinations. But in October 2021, The Hollywood Reporter published a feature about Hollywood studios navigating the complexities of vaccine mandates. The story included an on-set source who said Wright “espoused similar views about the Covid-19 vaccines” on the set of Wakanda Forever. Wright has denied this as “completely untrue.”

Will Black Panther: Wakanda Forever make its November 11 release date this year?Marvel Studios

Wakanda Taking Forever — It’s unknown to anyone outside Marvel Studios how close Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is to completing production. Wright’s presence is important given that she’s expected to assume the role of Black Panther due to actor Chadwick Boseman’s death in 2020. Wright’s character, Shuri, replaced her brother as the new Black Panther during Reginald Hudlin’s stint as writer of Marvel’s Black Panther comic books, and the MCU is expected to follow suit.

But Wright has, both intentionally and unintentionally, been part of visible production headaches. The actress also suffered a severe set injury in August 2021 that caused shooting to cease for the rest of the year. In November, Marvel’s Kevin Feige and producers Louis D’Esposito and Nate Moore sent a note to the crew explaining that they expected to resume in January.

But with Omicron now spreading and Wright still potentially unvaccinated, it’s looking uncertain if Marvel fans will get to see Wakanda this year.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is scheduled to open in theaters on November 11, 2022 — for now.