Marvel Studios confirmed that T'Challa would not be recast in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever following the tragic passing of Chadwick Boseman. And now, the sequel's screenwriter opened up if they ever considered using CGI to replace the late MCU actor for the movie.
Black Panther 2 had the insurmountable task of introducing new characters like Namor and Riri Williams into the MCU while also serving as a powerful tribute to Chadwick Boseman. Early reactions from critics proved that the sequel managed to successfully balance these elements, but it also opened the conversation on whether T'Challa would've been CGI'ed.
Executive Vice President of Marvel Studios Victoria Alonso swiftly debunked rumors that the studio would create a digital double of Boseman for the sequel, saying that "there's only one Chadwick, and he's not with us."
Black Panther 2 star Angela Bassett also chimed in about the CGI discussion, with the actress pointing out that she hasn't really thought of the idea.
Now, as the sequel is enjoying its triumphant run at the box office, the movie's writer revealed his thoughts on CGI'ing T'Challa.
Did Marvel Consider CGI'ing T'Challa?
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever writer Joe Robert Cole sat down with Rolling Stone to talk about the idea of using CGI to include the late Chadwick Boseman in the sequel.
When asked if there were scenes that might have needed a "CGI Chadwick," Cole admitted that he doesn't remember "any conversations" about incorporating a digital double for the sequel:
"I don’t remember any conversations about that. No. I don’t think we were ever…I don’t think anyone felt that would be appropriate."
This comes after some unhappy MCU fans made "Recast T'Challa" trend on Twitter during the sequel's opening weekend.
Moreover, Rolling Stone asked if there were any discussions of publishing the original version of Black Panther 2 as either a graphic novel or something else entirely.
Cole responded that he hasn't had any conversations about it before, saying that he's "really proud" of how the final version "honored Chad:"
"I wouldn’t know about that. I certainly haven’t had any conversations. I don’t know how I’d feel about that. I don’t know how anybody feels about it. I’m not sure. But I’m really proud of what we’ve put out and how we’ve honored Chad. I feel like the film speaks for itself. Anything beyond that, it’s above my pay grade."
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever director Ryan Coogler previously revealed that the sequel's original version was originally "rooted in T'Challa's perspective," describing the story as a "character study" while also bringing the usual Marvel action and adventure.
Cole then opened up on how the grieving process intersected with the challenge of reworking Wakanda Forever's story, saying that "Chad's loss shaped everything:"
"Chad’s loss shaped everything, in a lot of ways, once the decision was made not to recast. We all had a chance to weigh in a little bit on our thoughts on that. I think we all felt that he shouldn’t be [recast]. Once that decision was made, his death just logically becomes a part of the narrative going forward. And the exploration of how Wakanda and all of these characters that we love from the first movie dealt with that loss was really a way for us to explore who the new Black Panther should be organically, and to explore and broaden how we see all of these characters and how they move forward."
The MCU writer then explained how the cast and crew were "striving to move forward with the film" even with the presence of grief:
"Thematically, that spoke to where we were all, personally, with Chad, which is we were working through our grief. We were striving to move forward with the film. So we were able to find our way to a theme that spoke to what we were all going through, which is: How do you overcome loss? How do you deal with grief and turn that into something hopeful and something aspirational? Ryan led the way, and we followed in that regard."
Moving on from Boseman's T'Challa
Using CGI to replace T'Challa even for a single scene would be a wrong move for Marvel Studios, considering that it would be disrespectful to the late Chadwick Boseman. Moreover, from a technical standpoint, it would be hard to sustain a CGI'ed T'Challa throughout an entire movie.
Although there are some unhappy fans that didn't agree with Marvel Studios' decision to not recast T'Challa, many would still claim moving forward without the Wakandan King and instead honoring him properly is the wise move.
Joe Robert Cole's confirmation that there weren't any discussions to replace T'Challa with CGI also echoes Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige's sentiments that it was "too soon" to recast the character. Moreover, grief being at the center of the sequel's story made it even more powerful as it encompasses a strong message that directly impacted the audience.
Still, Black Panther 2 managed to turn grief into something hopeful (as Cole pointed out) by featuring T'Challa's son in its post-credits scene. It is unknown how Toussaint will fit in the MCU's future, but seeing his debut should further cement the idea that T'Challa's legacy will live on even without being recast.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is playing in theaters worldwide.