Black Panther: Wakanda Forever writer Joe Robert Cole discussed the sequel's initial plans for T'Challa's son.
When audiences flock to theaters for the latest MCU movie, they arrive armed with questions and even theories. But for Black Panther 2, things were different.
The biggest questions fans were asking were how the sequel would handle the death of Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman and if the franchise could move forward without him.
Instead of a suspension of reality, Wakanda Forever was tasked with incorporating reality.
It's a tall order that most feel the film got right, and it was accomplished in more ways than one, ranging from the funeral sequence shown in the trailer to Shuri's own emotional journey to a powerful mid-credits tag.
Now, Marvel Studios is opening up about the initial plans for one of Black Panther 2's new characters and how the role took on new meaning.
T'Challa's Son's Role Was 'Reduced' in Black Panther 2
Unlike some MCU films, Black Panther 2 only had one mid-credits scene where Lupita Nyong'o's Nakia introduces Shuri to T'Challa's son, Touissant, who - in Wakandan - is also named T'Challa.
In talking with Rolling Stone, Black Panther 2 writer Joe Robert Cole touched on this scene and the team's original plans for the young character prior to the passing of Chadwick Boseman.
According to Cole, T'Challa having "a child was always in the DNA of what we wanted to do:"
"T’Challa had a child in a previous iteration of the script prior to Chad’s passing. Him having a child was always in the DNA of what we wanted to do. We just weren’t sure, after he passed, about the best way to incorporate him. So there were various iterations of his son being in our new story."
Cole revealed that they considered introducing Touissant earlier in the film in "various [deleted] iterations" of the story, such as "when Ramonda [Angela Bassett] goes to Haiti:"
"And we finally landed on the reveal at the end. There was a point where I think when Ramonda [Angela Bassett] goes to Haiti, we had talked about potentially having him be revealed there. So we knew we wanted him to be a part of the movie in some way, and landed, I think, on the best possible version."
While the mid-credits reveal of T'Challa's child played an important part in the film's mission, the extent of the character's role would've been much different if Boseman hadn't passed.
In fact, as Cole explained, Touissant's screentime was "more reduced" after Boseman passed, and his role in the main crux of the movie was scrapped:
"Yeah, [in] a previous iteration, we really were more child-focused in the narrative, and his son was a part of that. Obviously that changed, but we wanted him to exist in the film in some way. It was much more reduced. And there were conversations about, when do we reveal this information to the audience and what’s the best version of it? Not only emotionally, but just narratively for the story and how it affects the characters in the story when they find out this information, and so forth. We played around a little bit, but he was never going to have a much larger presence after Chad passed."
While the role of T'Challa and Nakia's son was limited to a mid-credits reveal, the short scene packed an emotional punch and had a great deal to say.
Wakanda Forever cinematographer Autumn Durald Arkapaw told The Hollywood Reporter that the reveal "encapsulated exactly what I think this movie is:"
“It encapsulated exactly what I think this movie is. It’s about family and it’s about rebirth. And it’s about trying to let go of grief, but also [how] it does stay with you and you sometimes just have to carry it.”
Was Black Panther 2 Supposed to be a Father-Son Story?
This isn't the first time Marvel Studios touched on its original plans for Black Panther 2.
Black Panther producer Nate Moore also opened up about the role of T'Challa's son and changes made to the mid-credits scene reveal.
Even so, it's still surprising that Nakia and T'Challa's child was always part of the sequel, especially since many viewed his inclusion as a way to carry on the character of T'Challa while still paying respect to Boseman.
Since Joe Robert Cole claimed that "he was never going to have a much larger presence after Chad passed," it sounds as if a father-son relationship would've been at the heart of the original sequel.
It may also be why the team couldn't imagine him having a larger presence, especially if his bond with his father was key to young T'Challa's own arc as well as Shuri being the one to carry on her brother's legacy.
The question now is how different the film would've been if Touissant had been revealed earlier.
And, if Boseman hadn't passed, what plans did Marvel have in mind for the character, especially since the studio appears to be assembling a Young Avengers roster?
Fans are sure to learn more about Black Panther 2 and its original vision in the coming weeks and months.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is playing in theaters worldwide.