Marvel Studios is less than two months away from its final movie of the MCU's Phase 4, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever - the sequel to what was the MCU's highest-grossing solo movie ever prior to Spider-Man: No Way Home. But while Black Panther 2 will push Marvel's story from Wakanda to new heights, this time it will be without leading actor Chadwick Boseman, who tragically passed away after a long battle with cancer in 2020.
The fandom has been widely divided on whether Boseman's role as T'Challa should have been recast. In the end, Marvel Studios made the difficult choice to not take that route, with Black Panther 2 set to pay tribute to both the actor and character's memory.
The decision to move forward with the movie as a whole was also a difficult one both logistically and emotionally, as Boseman was the driving force behind one of the MCU's biggest movies of all time. And according to one of his co-stars, Boseman even gave director Ryan Coogler his own vote of confidence through those tough times developing the sequel.
Chadwick Boseman's Support of Black Panther 2
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever star Letitia Wright spoke with The Playlist about the late Chadwick Boseman's support for Marvel continuing with the franchise through his battle with cancer.
When asked if there was a moment where she became comfortable moving forward, Wright looked back to how much she struggled with losing Boseman, who she saw as a brother. According to Wright, once director Ryan Coogler "heard Chadwick give him that gentle push forward to continue" working on the sequel, he began to feel that it was bigger than everybody involved, feeling confident that everyone was making the right decision:
The Playlist: “Black Panther was a huge, huge hit and then with the passing of Chad, that was something where people were kinda wondering how Marvel would continue. As somebody involved in the project, was there a moment where you comfortable where you were like, ’Okay, they know what they’re doing, Ryan knows what he’s doing, and this going to be great.’?"
Wright: “I always knew that everybody knew what they were doing. You know, I felt that… it was hard for me to imagine being on set without my brother. It was something that I was battling for like months. And the confidence that Ryan felt [after] he heard Chadwick give him that gentle push forward to continue, and the way that Ryan would express that was bigger than all of us, and Chad would’ve wanted us to continue really encouraged me. So yeah, I have so much confidence. I love Ryan, he’s a big advocater for my dreams, and my goals, for my talent. He believes in me so much and to have someone on my side like that means a lot to me. So I can’t wait for you guys to see the film and how we have honored Chad in a beautiful way.”
In March 2021, Coogler told The Hollywood Reporter that he "didn't know what was going on" during Boseman's long battle with cancer, as the actor chose to keep the specifics of his illness to himself: "I knew what he wanted me to know."
And at the end of last year, Chadwick Boseman's brother, Derrick, spoke out about how he believed that while Chadwick would've wanted the Black Panther franchise to continue after his passing, Chadwick also believed the role of T'Challa should be recast rather than abandoned in the MCU, knowing that the character was larger than him and was aware of the character's influence on impressionable fans.
In this same recent interview with The Playlist, Wright was also asked if she could use just a couple of words to describe what fans will see with this new movie, which she answered with "heartfelt" and "adventurous" before cutting herself off:
The Playlist: “And just one word, what do you think people are gonna say when they see Wakanda Forever?”
Wright: “Hmm, one word, y’know?”
The Playlist: “Okay, you can be liberal with that. We could do two or three.”
Wright: “Thank you. Definitely like, not only adventure but just like heartfelt. A heartfelt, adventurous movie. That’s what you’re getting from me today.”
Wright also looked at the style of films that she's been taking on in recent years, going back to her past as "an arthouse indie kid."
She looked back to how she decided to tackle the role of Shuri in the first Black Panther, which gave her a fun "opportunity to play a scientist" and just happened to be within the MCU:
I’ve always been an arthouse indie kid. If you look back before Commuter, you’ll see that I did My Brother the Devil with Sally El Hosseini, with James Floyd, it went to Sundance in like 2013. I did Top Boy with Yann Demange… I’m influenced by so many arthouse films and that’s like the core of who I am. I just love cinema and I think the opportunity to play Shuri in Black Panther came about, not because I’m like a huge fan of, like, franchises and I’m obsessed over it, but because it was an opportunity to play a scientist and it just happened that it was part of a huge Marvel Cinematic movie, which I love. So it’s a conscious choice, yes, because it’s where my heart is, but also, I’m following where the good stories are. And the good stories sometimes take me on the set of Black Panther and sometimes they take me on the set of Silent Twins.”
Ryan Coogler Had Boseman's Seal of Approval
Black Panther 2 is dealing with a nearly unprecedented situation, in which its story is continuing without a recast of its leading actor after a tragic death. This is particularly big because of how massively successful its predecessor was, at one point ranking as one of the ten highest-grossing movies ever made.
Chadwick Boseman had also been fighting his cancer battle during his entire MCU tenure, which started more than six years ago with his debut in 2016's Captain America: Civil War.
Even though Boseman largely kept his battle with cancer out of the public eye, he and Coogler seemed to be on the same page with regards to the fact that the Black Panther role was bigger than both of them. And while both sides of the recasting argument have valid points and support, Coogler put forth the best effort he possibly could once the final call was made, with Boseman still remaining a key part of the Black Panther legacy.
Thankfully, Boseman's presence will be felt throughout the course of Black Panther 2, with the characters in the movie and the actors themselves doing everything in their power to make sure that the Wakandan King remains front and center. How the story around him moves forward is still a mystery, particularly with regard to who will take over as the Black Panther, but having Boseman's seal of approval should help ease fans' minds with anxiety building about this release.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will premiere in theaters on November 11.