Marvel’s Kevin Feige on Why They Didn’t Recast T’Challa for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”
“The world is still processing the loss of Chad,” Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige told Empire about the death of Chadwick Boseman, who passed away at 43 in August of 2020. Boseman’s death was a shock at a time of shocks, the loss of not only a rising star at the peak of his powers but a beloved husband, friend, and colleague. For the Black Panther family, Boseman was their North Star, along with co-writer/director Ryan Coogler. His loss meant that work on Black Panther 2 (now officially Black Panther: Wakanda Forever) would have to be completely rethought. A Black Panther sequel without its Black Panther would require some difficult choices. The notion of recasting Boseman’s character was one choice the filmmakers made early on. It wasn’t going to happen. Not yet.
In an interview with Empire, Feige says that recasting T’Challa, the proper name of Boseman’s character, was not in the cards at that point. “It just felt like it was much too soon to recast,” Feige told Empire. “Stan Lee always said that Marvel represents the world outside your window. And we had talked about how, as extraordinary and fantastical as our characters and stories are, there’s a relatable and human element to everything we do. The world is still processing the loss of Chad. And Ryan poured that into the story.”
When Boseman passed away, Feige, Coogler, and the filmmaking team had to imagine a world, and a Wakanda, without Boseman.
“The conversations were entirely about, yes, ‘What do we do next? And how could the legacy of Chadwick — and what he had done to help Wakanda and the Black Panther become these incredible, aspirational, iconic ideas — continue?’ That’s what it was all about,” Feige said to Empire.
The first trailer for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever managed to strike the almost impossible perfect note, somber and mournful and grief-stricken in the beginning, subtly shifting towards the epic action that Marvel Studios is known for when Wakanda is forced to face a new threat, in the form of Tenoch Huerta’s Namor the Submariner, as they are all still grieving. The remaining heroes of Wakanda—Lupita Nyong’o’s Nakia, Winston Duke’s M’Baku, Danai Gurira’s Okoye, Angela Bassett’s Ramonda, and Letitia Wright’s Shuri—must once again come together and fight for their futures, as well as for the memory of their fallen leader.
How Coogler, his co-writer Joe Robert Cole, and the rest of the Marvel team figured out a way to re-write the sequel to honor Boseman’s passing and to look to the future will be revealed soon. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hits theaters on November 11.
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Featured image: Marvel Studios’ BLACK PANTHER. Black Panther/T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman). Ph: Film Frame. ©Marvel Studios 2018