Celebrating ‘Wakanda Forever’ at Funko HQ

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is currently ruling the box office. And to celebrate the triumphant return of Wakanda’s greatest protector, our friends at Funko invited us to their megastore in Los Angeles for a morning of fun merchandise previews and a surprise panel with Marvel Studios’ Director of Production and Development, Kyana Davidson. See below for what Davidson had to say about the film, and for some fun photos of today’s festivities.

Davidson, who got her start at Marvel Studios as the Assistant to Victoria Alonso, worked her way up the ranks to become, not only the Director of Production and Development, but also an associate producer on Black Widow and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Here’s what she had to say about the film (courtesy of moderator Nikki Leacock, Sales Supervisor, Special Events and Operations at Funko Hollywood).

What is your favorite part about working on Marvel?
You know, Marvel films I think are really unique because we get to tell pretty grounded, real stories in the Marvel spectacle. So, we get the sci-fi in grand elements of a superhero movie, but we get to tell these very real stories that people relate to.

How did Wakanda Forever differ from the other Marvel films that you worked on?
Well it kind of actually connects to the previous question. I think that in general we get to just tap into so many stories. So, I worked on Black Widow and I think that was such an interesting movie to work on because it was a spy thriller. And at its core, it was about Natasha getting to be reintroduced into her spy family and getting to tackle her past. I think this movie had to tackle a kind of huge, emotional tribute. I think that at its core, it had to deal with grief which was something that a lot of people can relate to. So I think the two movies are very different in their own right, but very powerful.

The planning of a film of this magnitude, what did that look like?
Not a lot of sleep. No, honestly I think that the planning — it just kind of went back to us holding hands and you get a really good team that cares about these characters and really dives in and wants to tell their stories. So you plan as
much as possible, you do what you can, and you shoot what you can on the day but at the end of the day, it’s really just locking arms and getting a team that wants to tell these stories.

How did the costumes enhance the Wakanda Forever story?
Something we do at Marvel — we work really closely with the visual development team with Ryan Meinerding. He and his team kind of bring the publishing to life. So they design a look — so that’s what you see with Aneka — it’s paying homage to the midnight angels and what we see in the comics. He works hand in hand with Ruth Carter who we brought back from the first movie, and she really just dug into what the culture of both of these worlds are and you can tell in the costumes. You know, the attention to detail in these costumes go such a long way because it really tells the story of each character. And we have characters from all walks of life, so it really enhances it in such a great way.

Do you have a favorite memory working on this film?
That’s a great question. I do, so we actually shot in Puerto Rico for a few of the locations in the film, but one of which was Madagascar — we shot Puerto Rico and Madagascar. Without spoiling it for anybody that hasn’t seen it — there’s a scene that takes place kind of in the middle of this island with oceans surrounding the two leaders of Talokan and Wakanda — so it’s Namor and Ramonda — and it’s something that we always envisioned and seeing it on the day was pretty spectacular. What you don’t see on camera is that all of us kind of had our pants rolled up, knee deep in water, trying to get the tide right and make sure we weren’t going to be washed away. But it was one of my favorite memories just because we had talked about the scene so much, and actually seeing it there, making sure the lighting was right, making sure the water was right, and behaved, was pretty amazing.

You’ve touched on it already but if you were to say one thing that makes Wakanda Forever special, what would that be?
I mean there’s so many things. I think the characters that we are bringing back from the first film, the characters we get to introduce, the music for the film — there’s so much that went into this. But again, I think at its core it really deals with an emotion a lot of people deal with — and that’s grief and you know, coping with the loss of grief. It’s something I’m excited for people to see because I really think it will touch a lot of people. And we also got the opportunity to dive into two cultures. Wakanda in the first film — we introduced audiences to this world of Wakanda, but in this film, we get to introduce audiences to the world of Talokan. I think that those two things are storylines that are occurring simultaneously but it’s something that people can really grasp onto. You get the action, you get the comedy, but you get the emotional core from the film as well.

It really was a masterpiece. We’re so happy to have you here. I know you probably can’t answer this question but is there anything you can give us as far as what to expect in the future?
What I can say, and we actually do have her costume here, is we introduced Riri Williams in this film, and she’s so funny and so amazing. She’s a brilliant scientist from MIT, and her story is going to be continuing in a series next year. So I’m really excited about that.

Here is a gallery of images from the event: