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Why Black Panther: Wakanda Forever's Underwater Vibranium Scene Looked So Real

As the closer of the fourth phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe at the movies, director Ryan Coogler's "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" had a lot on its plate. In addition to serving as a worthwhile follow-up to 2018's "Black Panther," honoring the memory of the late Chadwick Boseman, and setting up story elements that will likely become more important in the MCU's future, it had a story to tell. As Namor (Tenoch Huerta) threatens war with the surface and the people of Wakanda attempt to thwart his plan, other nefarious forces are at work on plans of their own.

Though far from the focus of the movie, vibranium — a near-indestructible extraterrestrial metal that both Wakanda and Talokan have built their civilizations on — is on the minds of various world governments. Since Wakanda has proven unwilling to share its deposits, the United States government, in particular, has taken an interest in getting its hands on it by any means necessary. That even means scouring the ocean floor for it, which is what ultimately led Namor and the citizens of Talokan to take a vested interest in stopping those seeking to steal their resources.

If the "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" scene centered on the underwater search for vibranium looked unexpectedly real to you, there's a very good reason for that. Here's what went into it.

The underwater vibranium scene was actually filmed underwater

As it turns out, the underwater vibranium search scene was filmed completely underwater. As stunt coordinator and underwater expert Chris Denison shared with Variety, it entailed NASA operators working with winches to lower the actors down in their diving suits, with skilled free divers accompanying them to ensure they hit their marks. Why not just use scuba divers? Because the released air bubbles would interfere with the VFX team's post-production work. Denison recalls, "They would roll cameras, and then they're like, 'Hey, wait a second, Ryan's got a note.' I'm like, 'Ryan, but [they're underwater] — make this quick!'"

While far from the most flashy or over-the-top scene in the film, knowing what went into it makes it all the more impressive. Of course, this process didn't carry over into every other underwater scene in "Wakanda Forever," with the VFX team taking over for many of the other shots. Wētā FX visual effects supervisor Chris White pulled back the curtain on that process during an interview with befores & afters. He explains that it took several different VFX endeavors to get these scenes right, from creating digital versions of the actors to fine-tuning the physics of the water. Not to mention, they had to consider lighting, movement, the narrative at hand, and more.

Say what you will about superhero movies and their grip on Hollywood, but there's no doubt that the people behind them are putting in some incredibly hard work. The "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" team should be proud of what they accomplished.