According to Winston Duke, art was imitating real life on the Black Panther 2 set.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe lost its Black Panther with the tragic passing of Chadwick Boseman in Aug. 2020. But he and his character King T'Challa's memories live on in the highly anticipated sequel Wakanda Forever, which premieres Nov. 11. Giving fans a sneak peek at the film at Disney's D23 Fan Expo, Duke revealed what it was like returning to set without the late star.
"It was melancholy," he exclusively told E! News on Sept. 10. "There was a lot of joy, first and foremost, to just be back and be back with everybody and jump back into playing, but we missed our guy."
The sequel picks up after the death of T'Challa, as the country of Wakanda looks to crown a new leader and new Black Panther.
"Every day, someone else would manifest their grief, and we'd have to come together to help soothe them and take care of them," the 35-year-old continued. "We had to overcome this grief and create something really beautiful and special, and we did. I think we accomplished that."
But for as much sadness as there was felt on set, there was just as much excitement.
The film introduces Tenoch Huerta as the aquatic Namor and the underwater kingdom of Talocan, bringing fresh Latinx representation into the MCU. (Think of Namor as Marvel's slightly more villainous equivalent to Aquaman.)
Given that Namor and Black Panther are rivals in the comics, Huerta told E! News that Wakanda Forever was the "perfect place" to bring the character into the mix.
"This new world that we explore under the water, and everything is inspired in ancient cultures from the continent," the actor shared. "And what they did—the approach, all the research and all—not just the set, but the story, the costumes, makeup, everything is so beautiful, so perfect."
Check out the stars' full D23 chat with E! News in the video above.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever premieres in theaters Nov. 11.