Director Ryan Coogler has “reshaped” the second Black Panther film to be respectful of Chadwick Boseman.

Black Panther 2 star Lupita Nyong’o spoke with Yahoo! Entertainment recently, where she explained that the sequel has been reworked in honor of her late friend and co-star Boseman, who died last year at 43 due to complications from a private battle with colon cancer. 

“People will ask me, ‘Are you excited to go back?’ Excitement isn’t the word,” Nyong’o shared. “I feel like I’m in a very pensive and meditative state when it comes to Black Panther 2. His passing is still extremely raw for me. And I can’t even begin to imagine what it will be like to step on set and not have him there.”

Nyong’o explained that Coogler’s leadership brings some added comfort, and that it feels “spiritually and emotionally correct” to take on the second film. 

“But, at the same time we have a leader in Ryan, who feels very much like we do, who feels the loss in a very, very real way as well,” Nyong’o said. “And his idea, the way in which he has reshaped the second movie is so respectful of the loss we’ve all experienced as a cast and as a world. So it feels spiritually and emotionally correct to do this. And hopefully, what I do look forward to, is getting back together and honoring what he started with us and holding his light through it. Because he left us a lot of light that we’re still going to be bathing in. I know that for sure.”

In an interview earlier this year with The Hollywood Reporter, Coogler added that Boseman “wouldn’t have wanted us to stop” working on the sequel, sharing that he “was somebody who was so about the collective.”

Black Panther 2 is set to be released on July 8, 2022.