New insight from the director's commentary accompanying Black Panther: Wakanda Forever's Disney+ release reveals the origin of the seemingly new footage of Chadwick Boseman's T'Challa shown in the film's emotional ending.
Boseman's tragic passing back in 2020 was a shock, robbing the world of his light too soon. The implications of his absence and its effect on those he worked with was a big story surrounding the film, with actors and filmmakers alike having to contend with the loss of a dear friend and the responsibility of honoring him as best they could.
Wakanda Forever's recent streaming release re-ignited conversations around the still raw passing of Boseman. Besides the bevy of extras released alongside the drop of Black Panther 2 onto streaming, including things like deleted scenes and fresh insights, new comments around Boseman's final tribute in the film have also come to light.
Wakanda Forever Director Reveals Source of New Footage of Chadwick Boseman
During the director's commentary released alongside Black Panther: Wakanda Forever on Disney+, filmmaker Ryan Coogler addressed the seemingly new footage of Chadwick Boseman woven into the film's ending.
Speaking with cinematographer Autumn Durald Arkapaw, Coogler opened up about the shot of Boseman smiling warmly, sharing that it "was one of [his] favorite shots" that went unused "in the first film."
Coogler: Yeah, that was one of my favorite shots then that we didn't get to use in the movie.
Arkapaw: Oh, Really?
Coogler: Yeah, in the first film.
Arkapaw: It's a good smile...
The shot in question can be seen below.
Alternative ideas for Boseman's role in the sequel were quickly abandoned, according to Nate Moore, a producer on the film. Moore noted that while it was "a real conversation," it was also "a fast conversation."
"We couldn't do it. I will say when Chad passed, it was a real conversation we had with 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.'
Chadwick Boseman's Importance to Black Panther 2
Boseman's brief appearance in Wakanda Forever marks a clear emotional high in the film, providing a final reflection on the man whose life touched so many.
Even so, the specifics of Boseman's role in the film were not easy to come to. Beyond the clear emotional ramifications involved in the loss of such a beloved and influential figure, Boseman's death also presented a whole host of difficult consequences for the filmmakers, with them needing to be able to move the meaningful franchise forward while still honoring the legacy of such a man.
Conversations over at Disney were rapid, with both executives and creatives agreeing that re-casting was not an option. Other ideas were certainly viable, like the possibility of utilizing a digital double, though, according to creatives on the sequel, they were never even considered, seeming inappropriate.
The problem of addressing the loss of such a vital character was also a difficult proposition. Coogler himself noted the importance of not having T'Challa die from a specific battle or opponent, as this would give Shuri somewhere "to displace her anger," undercutting the inescapable quality of her grief.
Overall, the decisions made seem appropriate, leaving Boseman and T'Challa's absence as a very real, yet not excessive, emotional undercurrent in the film. Choosing only to include Boseman at this moment allowed the film to highlight the joy and power of the man without using the very real tragedy of his passing as a distasteful and overly saccharine crutch.