Only one more day remains until audiences everywhere can finally see Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the highly anticipated sequel to 2018’s Black Panther. But it wasn’t too long ago that we all learned the devastating news that Chadwick Boseman, who played King T’Challa/Black Panther, had died of colon cancer in 2020 at the age of 43. Not only was it a loss that left so many people reeling, but it also forced them to ask the questions that seemed impossible to answer: What will happen to the character of T’Challa? And which actor will be hired to take over the role now that Boseman is gone?
Last year, TMZ spoke with Derrick Boseman, brother of Chadwick Boseman, who stated his belief that T’Challa should remain alive, and continue to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, even if it means hiring another actor to portray him. Derrick also said that he believes Chadwick would want the same thing, and would feel the same way since he knew how important Black Panther is to so many Black fans, and how the character is viewed as a rare positive influence to the younger ones.
Despite Derrick Boseman sharing these views, it was made clear by Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, and by Marvel Studios producer/VP of Production & Development Nate Moore, that after discussing the matter with Black Panther and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever director/co-writer Ryan Coogler, there would be no recasting of T’Challa, and there would also be no computer-generated imagery to make him appear in Wakanda Forever, unlike how the late Peter Cushing and the late Carrie Fisher both appeared in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
From Yahoo! News:
“You will not see T’Challa in the MCU 616 universe,” [Nate Moore] told the Ringer-Verse podcast. “We couldn’t do it. I will say when Chad passed, it was a real conversation we had with [director Ryan] Coogler about what do we do.
“And it was a fast conversation. It wasn’t weeks, it was minutes of we have to figure out how to move this franchise on without that character. Because I think we all feel so much of T’Challa in the MCU on the screen - not in comics - is tied to Chadwick’s performance, is what he brought to that role both on and off screen.
He went on to say that Boseman left “a big hole”, though “at no point did we consider casting”, going on to explain: “The challenge for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is telling a story without T’Challa. And I think it’s a challenge we’re up for.
“Obviously we’re in the middle of it and are figuring it out, and so far I think what we’re getting is great. But the challenge of the movie I think is to entertain people. But I think there will be a level of catharsis and people coming back to this universe without that guy, because that guy and that universe to me are one and the same.”
From Empire magazine:
Kevin Feige: “It just felt like it was much too soon to recast,” he says, likening their approach to Marvel’s long-standing ethos in the comics. “Stan Lee always said that Marvel represents the world outside your window. And we had talked about how, as extraordinary and fantastical as our characters and stories are, there’s a relatable and human element to everything we do. The world is still processing the loss of Chad. And Ryan poured that into the story.”
Before it became known to the public that Marvel and Disney had no intention of recasting T’Challa with any other actor, there were some fans who caught wind of rumors about this and who decided to let it be known that they weren’t happy with the possibility of never seeing the character in the MCU again. Very soon after Boseman’s death, the Twitter hashtag #RecastTChalla was created. Along with a petition on Change.org for fans to sign so that they could inform Marvel and Disney that they wanted to continue seeing the king of Wakanda onscreen, alive and kicking, instead of dead and buried.
According to the petition and hashtag, which was created by film critic Emmanuel “E-Man” Noisette:
This is a call for the President of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige, Co-President Louis D’Esposito, and Writer/Director Ryan Coogler to reconsider their decision, and recast the role of “T’Challa” in the Black Panther franchise. If Marvel Studios removes T’Challa, it would be at the expense of the audiences (especially Black boys and men) who saw themselves in him. That also includes the millions of fans who were inspired by the character as well.
By not recasting, it could stifle the opportunity for one of the most popular, leading Black superheroes to add on to their legacy. The #1 way to kill a legend, is to stop telling their story.
#RecastTChalla is NOT calling for an immediate recast.
#RecastTChalla is NOT preventing anyone else from taking up the mantle of Black Panther.
#RecastTChalla is asking Marvel Studios NOT to use the tragic passing of Chadwick Boseman as a plot device in their fictional storytelling.
#RecastTChalla is asking for the portrayal of T’Challa to be allowed to continue in the MCU.
After studio head Kevin Feige and “Black Panther” executive producer Nate Moore announced plans to remove T’Challa from the MCU, Noisette began to worry that Boseman’s character would meet a tragic end. T’Challa was already killed and resurrected in “Black Panther” before temporarily perishing again in “Avengers: Infinity War.”
Yet another death for T’Challa, Noisette fears, would have a traumatic effect on Black children who idolized Boseman on the big screen.
“If you do end up killing this character for the third time … whether it’s intentional or not, you’re now going to be exploiting the actor’s real-life passing. And that’s what I’m trying to urge Marvel not to do,” Noisette said.
“I have no animosity against Marvel,” he added. “Marvel is human. I understand that people can have emotional blind spots. I know that this is a tough position for them. … We are just expressing how much this character means to us.”
Much like the creation of the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut hashtag by fans to encourage Warner Bros. to let director Zack Snyder release his own version of Justice League that was originally intended for the world to see, there were fans who were positive and well-behaved and rational in supporting this hashtag, and sharing their very understandable reasons for why they wanted to see T’Challa alive and recast. And of course, there are others who have been…more extreme in expressing how upset and disappointed they are about Marvel and Disney’s decision to kill the character off.
The reasons for their anger and disappointment: They feel that Marvel and Disney should’ve waited a few years until the grief of Chadwick Boseman’s death was less painful, and then go forward with the production of Wakanda Forever instead of going ahead like it’s just business as usual. They feel that the studios are simply using his death (and our collective grief about it) to sell the movie to fans, so that it can be another blockbuster that will fatten their own pockets. That Ryan Coogler and Nate Moore are both gatekeeping T’Challa, and are making horrible decisions that are preventing fans from enjoying more stories with him in them. They don’t understand how other characters like Batman and The Joker can be played by numerous actors (or in the case of characters being recast because their actors died for various reasons: Gen. ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross, Dumbledore, and Spartacus), and yet the idea of another actor portraying T’Challa is somehow forbidden. There are some #RecastTChalla supporters who actually feel that this is another example of the ‘woke’/SJW agenda affecting how Wakanda Forever was made, and that it is lessening the importance of a Black male superhero by taking him away from fans to promote a Black woman becoming the Black Panther and taking over the mantle. (It’s also why there are some Black Panther fans who are reluctant to see Wakanda Forever in theaters, and why there are others who simply have no interest in seeing any sequels to Black Panther if this is the path that Marvel and Disney are choosing.)
Some of those very same ashy hotep, misogynoir-loving fans (who have never used the #RecastTChalla hashtag, mind you, but still have a lot to say about the future of Black Panther in the MCU) also feel that Wakanda Forever missed out on a perfect opportunity to bring back the character of Erik Killmonger, who was played by Michael B. Jordan in Black Panther, and who died at the end of the film as a result of his confrontation with T’Challa. (No matter how many years have passed since seeing Black Panther for the first time, it’s damn near impossible to forget Killmonger’s last words: “Just bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped from the ships. Because they knew that death was better than bondage.”) According to them, Killmonger being alive and appearing in the sequel would be a great way to give him a redemption arc for his deeds in the original film (you know, the museum robbery that killed several security guards; his retrieval of Ulysses Klaue that resulted in the deaths of several CIA agents and nearly killed Everett Ross; shooting his own girlfriend to death so he could kill Klaue; destroying the Wakandan garden that carried all of the Heart-Shaped Herb; his desire to use Wakanda resources to invade every other country and kill anyone who opposed his reign, including the children of his enemies; his brutal murder of a Dora Milaje; attempting to kill both T’Challa and Shuri; and everything he had ever done during his work as a black-ops agent for the U.S. government), so that he could take over the Black Panther mantle once again, see the error of his ways, and finally become the leader of Wakanda that they need and want him to be.
Which I’m sure is something that would make a few Black Panther fans very happy.
Except for a few things:
Despite everything we learned about what happened to him and what motivated him to become ruler of Wakanda in the first place, Killmonger was clearly the villain of the story, not some lovable, rough-around-the-edges antihero who just needed a couple of hugs from Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett). Even when he thought T’Challa had died in ritual combat, and he took over as king, Killmonger was never going to be the leader that Wakanda deserved. Okoye (Danai Gurira) herself realized this, and called his ass out on it.
As many others on social media have rightly pointed out, Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) felt the same way as Killmonger did about opening Wakanda up to the rest of the world, and using their vast resources to help make things better for everyone, especially Black people. The difference is that Killmonger was a ruthless bastard who would kill anyone and do anything to have the throne of Wakanda, and to use his power as king to rule over everyone with little to no mercy. Nakia, on the other hand? Was the complete opposite. And it’s hard to forget or ignore that Killmonger is a Black man, and there are too many f-ckboys and Pick-Mes who not only insist that Killmonger is right (while still ignoring that Nakia felt the same way as Killmonger, minus the need for murder and world domination), but who would rather see a Black male character with villainous tendencies rule over Wakanda as the Black Panther, instead of a Black female spy who is tough but fair, and who would wield her power with both wisdom and compassion.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to see more positive and inspirational images of Black men in the media, and T’Challa is one of the best and biggest examples of this. But I do have to question your judgment and your intelligence if the thought of Shuri, Okoye, Nakia, or even Queen Ramonda taking over as Black Panther to be the protector of Wakanda is something that would actually make you angry enough to throw temper tantrums about it on and off the Internet. (Granted, any reluctance about Shuri becoming Black Panther is fairly understandable after learning what we now know about Letitia Wright. But something tells me that even if that never happened, there would still be a lot of noise being made about it.)
I have no interest in belittling the #RecastTChalla hashtag, or the people who are using it to express how much they love Black Panther and the character of T’Challa. (That doesn’t apply to the f-ckboys, Pick-Mes, bullies, and a—holes using the hashtag with little to no Act-Right, who can all go brush their teeth with chainsaws, as far as I’m concerned) And I say that as someone who has gone back and forth on whether or not T’Challa should be recast, who wants to see more stories told in live-action of T’Challa-as-Black Panther battling enemies of all kinds to protect Wakanda as well as the rest of the world, and who would’ve loved to see T’Challa go head-to-head with Namor in a grudge match that would be the MCU version of Vincent Hanna vs. Neil McCauley in Heat. Back in 2018, before Black Panther opened in theaters, critic/social media marketer Kayla Sutton created the #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe hashtag, so that Black people could express their reasons as to why that film, and the lead character, mattered so very much to them, and why they were so excited about seeing this kind of representation on the big screen. So it shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that Emmanuel Noisette created his own hashtag to let the world know how much Black Panther means to him, and that other fans used their own voices with that hashtag to do the same.
None of us know when or how we’ll see T’Challa onscreen again, or if we’ll be introduced to a Multiverse version of T’Challa (Fans couldn’t help but notice that Nate Moore specifically said that we wouldn’t see T’Challa again in the 616 Marvel universe), or which actor will be granted the opportunity to portray him. And there have been plenty of names discussed as to who would be capable of taking over the role: John Boyega, Aldis Hodge, Trevante Rhodes, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Y’lan Noel, John David Washington. But no matter what we want or how we want it, it will be quite some time before Marvel and Disney feel ready and comfortable in having T’Challa appear once more in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Which is also how long it will be before most of us will be able to see another actor playing T’Challa/Black Panther without being overwhelmed by thoughts of Chadwick Boseman’s absence, and wishing that he was still here so that there would be no need to recast T’Challa in the first place.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever opens in theaters November 10th.