Marvel Studios' Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is only a few weeks from closing out the MCU's Phase 4 slate, with much of it paying tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman who starred in the MCU as T'Challa for six years. Unfortunately, there's been a great deal of controversy surrounding the decision on how to continue with T'Challa's story under the Marvel Studios umbrella.
At Disney Investor Day 2020, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige announced during the MCU panel that the team made the difficult decision to not recast T'Challa after Boseman excelled in the role since 2016's Captain America: Civil War. This led to a passionate movement online from fans crying for Marvel to reconsider that decision, reasoning that there were so many T'Challa-centric stories that could still be told even though Boseman was gone.
This movement picked up in ferocity when Boseman's own brother said that the actor would want the role recast, even though Marvel Studios continued to move through production with T'Challa remaining dead in the MCU.
Now, ahead of Black Panther 2's debut in theaters, one of Marvel's top producers opened up about what went into making that choice as the Multiverse Saga evolved.
Marvel Producer Discusses T'Challa Recast Controversy
In the latest issue of Total Film magazine, Marvel Studios VP of Production & Development Nate Moore spoke about the studio's decision to not recast the role of T'Challa ahead of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
He admitted that it was a difficult decision, but in the end, it was one that everybody in the studio trusted as the path was illuminated:
“I don’t know if anything about it was an easy decision. But it was a decision that, once made, we all believed in, and it led us on a path forward.”
Moore couldn't see a way to tell another young actor that he was playing T'Challa in the MCU, even being "very aware of the talkback" regarding the choice. But it was a call that he couldn't make, although he made it clear that the calls for the role to be recast are fair:
“I could not imagine turning to the best young actor in the world who wasn’t Chadwick, and being like, ‘OK, so you’re T’Challa.’ I could not, and cannot, imagine that. I really couldn’t. Other people will have a different answer to that question. And we’re very aware of the talkback, and how people feel. And I think all of that, to be quite honest, is fair. Everybody’s going to have a different opinion. I can just say, after being in it, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t get there."
Moore looked back on plenty of conversations that the leadership had, which included a lot of tears. They all "wanted to make the right decision" so that they could still "make the movie in the way it needed to be told.”
When Boseman passed away at age 43, he had built an incredible career even outside of his work as the Black Panther for the MCU. This included a posthumous Oscar nomination for Best Actor in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige expressed how shocking it was to hear about Boseman's death, just as it was for the rest of the world, with the main focus being on "processing the loss" of somebody so close to the MCU family.
“Obviously it was a shock to all of us, the way it was to the world. We found out when the world found out. And for a long time, the focus was just on that – on processing the loss of a colleague, and a friend, and an important creative partner for us.”
Black Panther 2 had been in the works long before Boseman's death after becoming the MCU's highest-grossing solo movie to date, making it hard to imagine the idea of continuing with any version of that movie after tragically losing its lead star:
“There was an early draft. Ryan [Coogler, director/co-writer] had written a draft, and had had conversations with Chad about it.”
The main focus for Black Panther 2 after processing the loss of Boseman was keeping "the positivity and the hope and the vision of Wakanda" as the story continued to develop. Director Ryan Coogler was able to bring that positivity to life for "every single person going to see the movie" after Boseman's death, which became the first building block for Coogler's next version of the story:
“For a long time, the focus was just on processing the loss. And then it quickly shifted to continuing the legacy. It was important to everybody. And we believed it was important for the world that the positivity and the hope and the vision of Wakanda continued, and that that world, and that incredible ensemble of characters that were brought together on that first movie, were able to continue forward, and continue to put that light of positivity out into the world. Ryan really began to think of how to do that with every single person going to see the movie knowing what had happened in real life with Chadwick. And, really, that became the starting point for Ryan’s new version of this film.”
T'Challa's Memory Still Honored in Black Panther 2
Marvel Studios has never had to deal with a decision this difficult to make, with Boseman having been vital to the MCU's story since the beginning of Phase 3. He then brought a once-in-a-lifetime performance to the role of T'Challa, particularly with his efforts in 2018's Black Panther, making the decision to not recast the role an incredibly difficult one from every angle.
Even though the decision has split the MCU fanbase heavily, Marvel Studios is doing everything in its power to make sure that Boseman's legacy is remembered the best it can be in Black Panther 2. The movie will confirm that T'Challa has passed away in the MCU, even though the causes are currently unknown, and footage revealed that the Wakandans will honor him like a king as they try to push their nation forward to new heights.
No matter how this hotly anticipated sequel unfolds, Marvel Studios and fans alike will all face an emotional experience diving back into the world of Wakanda as T'Challa's life is celebrated to close out Phase 4.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will premiere in theaters on Friday, November 11.