How "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" Honors Chadwick Boseman and King T'Challa
Don't worry, "Black Panther" fans. The long-awaited Marvel sequel, "Wakanda Forever," may mourn the loss of King T'Challa (played by the late Chadwick Boseman), but the film still finds a way to honor him with a proper sendoff.
Following Boseman's death on Aug. 28, 2020 — the actor died at age 43 after a battle with colon cancer — fans had mixed feelings about his role getting recast in "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever." However, during Disney's Investor Day event in December of that year, Marvel confirmed Boseman would not be replaced with another actor.
"You will not see T'Challa in the [Marvel Cinematic Universe] 616 universe. We couldn't do it."
"Chadwick Boseman was an immensely talented actor and an inspirational individual who affected all of our lives professionally and personally," said Marvel President Kevin Feige, per Deadline. "His portrayal of T'Challa the Black Panther is iconic and transcends iteration of the character in any other medium from Marvel's past. To honor the legacy that Chad helped us build through his portrayal of the king of Wakanda, we want to continue to explore the world of Wakanda and all of the rich and varied characters introduced in the first film."
Marvel producer Nate Moore, who worked on the first "Black Panther" movie, reflected on the decision not to recast Boseman's character for the sequel during the Nov. 12, 2021, episode of the "Ringer-Verse" podcast. "I'm being quite honest. You will not see T'Challa in the [Marvel Cinematic Universe] 616 universe. We couldn't do it," he said. Moore explained that he and director Ryan Coogler had a "fast conversation" following Boseman's death about the potential of recasting and ultimately decided that since "so much of T'Challa in the MCU on the screen . . . is tied to Chadwick's performance," it didn't seem right to replace him.
Boseman is remembered for several important and memorable roles — including Thurgood Marshall in "Marshall;" Jackie Robinson in "42;" James Brown in "Get on Up;" Norman Earl "Stormin' Norm" Holloway in Spike Lee's "Da 5 Bloods;" Levee in "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom;" and, of course, T'Challa/Black Panther in the MCU.
Boseman first appeared in the MCU during "Captain America: Civil War" before he stepped into his coveted suit for "Black Panther." The Coogler-directed film shattered box-office records and ushered in a much-needed standard of onscreen representation in the superhero world.
Unsurprisingly, "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" was set into motion to help wrap up Marvel's Phase Four in which Boseman was expected to return as the lead. However, after news of his death, fans requested King T'Challa not be recast and instead suggested Letitia Wright's Shuri become the leader of Wakanda.
Read ahead to see how "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" handles the future of the film franchise without Boseman as T'Challa.
Is Chadwick Boseman in "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever"?
There were plenty of rumors about the "Black Panther" sequel leading up to the movie's Nov. 11 release, specifically surrounding Boseman's inclusion in the film. To the relief of many, in no way is his T'Challa character replaced. He's instead given a noble send-off at the start of the film as Wakanda mourns the death of their leader and celebrates him with a grand funeral. Although Boseman didn't film new scenes for "Wakanda Forever" (he died before production began), Coogler makes use of old footage from the first "Black Panther" in the sequel. At the end of the film, in a scene where Shuri finally mourns her late brother, a highlight reel of T'Challa clips plays during a moment of silence.
"Wakanda Forever" centered a story around grief that allowed the cast and crew to pay incredible tribute to Boseman, making sure he was never forgotten. "We honored him by committing ourselves to the story that he started, the legacy that he started with this franchise," Wright told Variety back in May. "And we just committed every day to working hard, no matter what circumstances we faced — and we faced a lot of circumstances, a lot of difficult situations — but we came together as a team, and we poured everything into this movie."
In an interview with Variety in November, Coogler referenced a scene in "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" in which a character speaks about giving themself time and space to grieve over the death of T'Challa. "That's a movie," Coogler explained to the publication. "I don't know if there's such thing as, you can go away, take enough time, and come back and it's OK — you don't miss your friend no more. You know what I mean? I don't know that that's how it works. It's an ongoing process."
"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" is now playing in theaters.