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Black Panther 2: UFC champ Kamaru Usman cast in mystery role

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UFC welterweight champion, Nigerian-born Kamaru Usman has been cast in a mystery role for the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ in an undisclosed role. Reported by MMA Fighting, UFC Hall of Famer Daniel Cormier revealed Usman’s involvement in the upcoming sequel during the UFC 277 weigh-in show.

While it is said that Usman has a guest role in the film, it is unknown who exactly he is playing as of writing. Usman was born in Auchi, Edo State in Nigeria to an Army major father, and a teacher mother, who moved their family to the United States when the champ was a youngster.

Usman’s role is not the only mystery casting for the film. ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ is set to be a heartfelt tribute to the late ‘Black Panther’ (2018) star Chadwick Boseman, who passed away in 2020 after portraying the hero T’Challa across four Marvel Cinematic Universe films. Released during Marvel Studios’ Hall H panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2022, the official trailer for Wakanda Forever shows that T’Challa is now dead in the MCU, and that someone else has put on the Vibranium suit as his heroic successor.

Who this successor is remains a mystery though. Many theories are circulating about who the next Black Panther will be, with speculated choices including Shuri (Letitia Wright), Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), M’Baku (Winston Duke) and a resurrected Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan).

In addition to an appearance by Usman and a new Black Panther, Wakanda Forever will debut two major players to the MCU. The first is Namor the Submariner, a king of an underwater kingdom and rival of Black Panther’s in Marvel Comics, who will be portrayed by actor Tenoch Huerta. The other is Riri Williams aka Ironheart, played by actor Dominique Thorne in the film.

Aside from Usman, Huerta and Thorne’s new characters, Wakanda Forever also sees the return of Shuri, Ramonda, M’Baku and CIA agent Everett Ross (Martin Freeman). Directed by Ryan Coogler, ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ will be in theatres Nov. 11, 2022.

MOVIES

Keanu Reeves will return for John Wick spinoff film ‘Ballerina’

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According to a report on Collider, Keanu Reeves is the latest addition to the cast of ‘Ballerina’, an upcoming spinoff film that is set in the same universe as the John Wick films. The actor will reprise his role as assassin John Wick, which originated in the 2014 film. His casting comes shortly after Ian McShane was confirmed to be returning as Winston, the manager of The Continental Hotel, for ‘Ballerina’. It is currently unknown how the two John Wick characters will factor into the spinoff’s plot and how large their roles will be in the film.

Ana de Armas will lead the cast of ‘Ballerina’, with the talented actor portraying a young female assassin seeking revenge against the people who murdered her family. Len Wiseman will direct the upcoming spinoff film, which was first teased in the 2019 film ‘John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum’ through Anjelica Huston’s character ‘The Director’, the head of the Ruska Roma crime syndicate who oversees a program that trains young male wrestlers to be assassins and young ballet dancers to be femme fatales. It is unknown at this time if Houston will return in the upcoming spinoff.

‘Ballerina’ will mark Reeves’ fifth time portraying the master assassin. Production is currently underway, but the movie does not yet have a release date.

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Why ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ got premiered in Lagos

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In a notable first, the latest Marvel movie, ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’, premiered officially in Lagos, Nigeria over the weekend.

By Mariam Abdullahi

On November 6, Sunday evening, and days ahead of the film’s theatrical release on November 11, ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ was premiered in Lagos Nigeria. Written and directed by Ryan Coogler, who helmed the first film, it is expected to be a blockbuster just like the first film. The cast, as well as the director, visited Lagos to launch a continent-wide series of premieres, with the Nigerian one starting off as the main one.

It also kicked off continent-wide celebrations ahead of the release of ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’. The film continues with the story of T’Challa, the king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda, and it stars Letitia Wright, Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Tenoch Huerta, Dominique Thorne, Michaela Coel, and Tenoch Huerta as anti-hero/villain Namor (also known as the Sub-Mariner in the comics).

Winston Duke attends the African Premiere of Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” on November 6, 2022 in Lagos, Nigeria. (Photo by StillMoving.net for Disney)

There was a Sunday morning press conference with some cast and crew members at Lagos Continental Hotel. Director Coogler, who snagged an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture for the first ‘Black Panther’ movie, said Lagos has a lot of history and cultural significance for filmmakers. He also informed the ecstatic audience that he recently took a genealogy test that revealed his lineage.

Coogler said: “If you know African American history, it’s tough for us to trace our genetic lineage. So one of the things I spoke with the late Chadwick Boseman about when we first met and were getting ready to put his movie on was that he put me up on something called AfricanAncestry.com. It was specific about finding out where you have a heritage. Chad had done his own, and he explained how it is done. So when I did mine, it came back as having lineage to a part of Cameroon, but mainly Yoruba lineage. It was something that I held on to and always wanted to travel to Nigeria for that reason.”

Letitia Wright interacts with fans at the African Premiere of Marvel Studios’ ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ on November 6, 2022 in Lagos, Nigeria. (Photo by StillMoving.net for Disney)

Coogler also said while different parts of Africa influenced the film, Nigerian culture exudes a specific energy that is hard to ignore. That feeling is evident in the striking soundtrack of the film, which has Rihanna’s first song in over half-a-decade, co-written by Nigerian sensation Tems. It also features powerful songs by other Nigerian artistes like Burna Boy, Fireboy DML, Ckay, Rema, Tobe Nwigwe and Fat Nwigwe, including a cover of Bob Marley’s ‘No Woman No Cry’ by Tems.

‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ is probably the most highly-anticipated film of the year, a direct sequel to 2018’s ‘Black Panther’, which starred Chadwick Boseman, who died in 2020 of Colon Cancer aged 43.

Danai Gurira chats with fans

‘Wakanda Forever’ sees Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), Shuri (Letitia Wright), M’Baku (Winston Duke), Okoye (Danai Gurira), and the Dora Milaje fight to protect their nation from intervening world powers in the wake of King T’Challa’s death. As the Wakandans strive to embrace their next chapter, the heroes must band together with the help of Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) and Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) to forge a new path for the kingdom. The film introduces Tenoch Huerta as Namor, king of a hidden undersea nation.

‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ premieres on Nov. 11.

L-R: Lupita N’yongo, Danai Gurira, and Letitia Wright, in Lagos, Nigeria, for the African premiere of ‘Wakanda Forever’

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Yahya Abdul-Mateen II cast as ‘Wonder Man’ for Marvel TV series, sparks race-bending controversy

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Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is set to join the Disney+ series ‘Wonder Man’ as Simon Williams, who transforms into the titular superhero. It does seem likely, though, that William’s comic history as an actor and stunt performer will come into play in the show. Marvel Studios has not yet announced a premiere date for ‘Wonder Man’, even as online cries about race-bending the character (he’s originally Caucasian in the comics) continue to louden. Race-bending of fictional characters being translated to screen has been a sore point for some fans and has recently even become a hot-button topic.

Race-bending of fictional characters being translated to screen has been a sore point for some fans and has recently even become a hot-button topic.

‘Wonder Man’ will be Abdul-Mateen’s third major comic book character, after playing the villain Black Manta in 2018’s ‘Aquaman’ and Dr. Manhattan in HBO’s 2019 series ‘Watchmen’, for which he won an Emmy. He’s already set to reprise Black Manta in ‘Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom’, currently scheduled for Christmas 2023.

Filmmaker Destin Daniel Cretton, who directed Marvel’s 2021 feature ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’, is developing ‘Wonder Man’. He may direct as well, though he’s got a crowded schedule, as he’s set to direct 2025’s ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty, and he’s expected to helm the prospective (though unannounced) ‘Shang-Chi’ sequel.

In the comic books, Williams is the son of a wealthy industrialist whose company, Williams Innovations, is run out of business due to competition from Stark Industries. In desperation, Simon turns to Baron Zemo, who gives Simon superpowers and directs him to infiltrate and then betray the Avengers. Eventually, however, Simon joins the Avengers in earnest and is even a founding member of the spin-off team, the West Coast Avengers. However, it’s unclear how much or little of this storyline will make its way into the series.

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