Last month, it was revealed by Black Panther: Wakanda Forever co-writer Joe Robert Cole that T'Challa's son was actually in a previous iteration of the script before Chadwick Boseman's passing.
Cole was clear when saying that "a child was always in the DNA of what we wanted to do" and wasn't included because of Boseman's death.
Producer Nate Moore said that Ryan Coogler rewrote the son's role in the film, so it was "repurposed thematically" after the loss of its lead. But, fans were left in the dark about exactly what T'Challa's son would have been doing in the sequel.
Now, Coogler has finally given further context to the son's far more prominent role in the initial plot of the sequel.
T'Challa and Son Saving the World
In an interview with The New York Times, director Ryan Coogler was asked about the initial draft of the script for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, before Chadwick Boseman's death, and what challenges came with it, the biggest being the Blip:
"It was, “What are we going to do about the Blip?” [In Marvel’s “Avengers: Infinity War,” T’Challa is one of billions of people who suddenly vanish, only to be brought back by the Avengers five years later.] That was the challenge."
Coogler went on to describe the original script as "nothing like what we made" and that it was "a father-son story from the perspective of a father" to mirror the original and how it would have been "mostly from the child’s perspective:"
"It was absolutely nothing like what we made. It was going to be a father-son story from the perspective of a father, because the first movie had been a father-son story from the perspective of the sons."
The original idea of the sequel would have had T'Challa grapple with "this forced five-year absence from his son’s life:"
"In the script, T’Challa was a dad who’d had this forced five-year absence from his son’s life. The first scene was an animated sequence. You hear Nakia [T’Challa’s love interest, played by Lupita Nyong’o] talking to Toussaint [the couple’s child, introduced in “Wakanda Forever” in a post-credits sequence]. She says, “Tell me what you know about your father.”
Mirroring the first film, it would have opened with a similar animated sequence of Lupita Nyong’o's Nakia telling her son about his father, the Black Panther. It would have "cut to reality and it’s the night that everybody comes back from the Blip," including T'Challa:
"You realize that he doesn’t know his dad was the Black Panther. He’s never met him, and Nakia is remarried to a Haitian dude. Then, we cut to reality and it’s the night that everybody comes back from the Blip. You see T’Challa meet the kid for the first time."
A three-year time jump would have then happened, showing T'Challa "essentially co-parenting" and that there would have been "some crazy scenes in there for Chad:"
"Then it cuts ahead three years and he’s essentially co-parenting. We had some crazy scenes in there for Chad, man. Our code name for the movie was “Summer Break,” and the movie was about a summer that the kid spends with his dad."
As for the core plot, it would have involved T'Challa and his son "[going] out into the bush" to celebrate his eighth birthday, only to be dragged into a conflict to save the world:
"For his eighth birthday, they do a ritual where they go out into the bush and have to live off the land. But something happens and T’Challa has to go save the world with his son on his hip. That was the movie."
From the Perspective of the Son
It's also been confirmed by Coogler that the plot would have still involved Namor, meaning that T'Challa's conflict with the Talokan ruler would have been told from the son's perspective.
Is it possible, for example, that in place of Namor trying to convince Shuri of his devotion to Talokan, it would have been T'Challa's son instead?
It's interesting how Coogler wanted such close thematic parallels to the original, only switching the perspective. Would T'Challa struggle to be a better father and example to his son than T'Chaka ended up being for him?
But unless Coogler tells fans more, fans will have to be left to speculate with themselves on the details of what would have been the son's role.