Even a juicy, global sensation like “Black Panther” had some fat to trim — not that anyone involved in the blockbuster was happy about leaving moments on the cutting room floor.
The film’s editor and frequent Ryan Coogler collaborator, Michael Shawver, spoke with ThewWrap about his latest gig, a cultural phenomenon that on Sunday crossed the billion-dollar mark at the worldwide box office.
“Hands down the most painful scene to cut was [one] with Danai Gurira and Daniel Kaluuya,” Shawver said of the actors, who play Wakanda’s armed forces General Okoye and tribe ambassador W’Kabi, respectively. They’re also onscreen lovers.
“Toward the end, after things go bad and Killmonger [Michael B. Jordan] is in control and all that, we’re talking about, what are they going to do? What is Wakanda going to become?” Shawver recalled.
“Those are two powerhouse actors and it was an incredible scene with so many layers to it — boyfriend and girlfriend, it was general and her advisor, all those things. That was painful,” he said.
In his role as editor, Shawver said his priority was to “have your finger on the pulse of what the audience is feeling. At that point in the movie, it’s about two thirds through, and that’s when most movies drag. Ours was taking a while to get to that point.”
The other cut scene was a grounding moment for Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa and Forest Whitaker’s Zuri, the latter serving as an elder statesman for the fictional African country under the black panther’s rule.
“There’s a scene between Chadwick and Forest’s characters which sets up their relationship. It sort of lets you attach yourself to their father-son dynamic so that later on in the film … you really feel more,” he said.
Shawver confirmed that the scenes would be included on the forthcoming home entertainment release of “Black Panther,” available as DVD extras.
The editor and director met as film school students at the University of Southern California, where Shawver said he gravitated toward Coogler’s bold and personal filmmaking style. Shawver never imagined they would reach this level of success, he admitted.
“Ryan and I have been a team for five years, it’s honestly hard to wrap my head around it,” said Shawver, who said Coogler approached Marvel executives with the same determination and heart he had for their indie “Fruitvale Station.”
“It was a great excuse as an adult male to read as many comics as I could. I got a sense of it, Ryan brought me to Marvel and they asked me everything from ‘Will you be able to handle this?’ to, ‘What is your favorite Marvel movie?” Shawver said. “Ryan likes to be able to trust everybody he works with.”
In his job interview, Shawver told the executives his favorite Marvel film was “The Avengers.” We dare say he’s got a new favorite now.