It’s been three months since Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman died, at a shockingly young age, from a largely undisclosed bout of colon cancer. Disney and Marvel Studios have been careful to give Boseman’s legacy some space in the ensuing months, aggressively pushing back on any talks about what their star’s sudden death means for one of the more prominent would-be franchises in the latter-day MCU, or how they might try to move forward with the long-in-the-works Black Panther 2.
Now, though, THR reports that movement has begun on plans to film Ryan Coogler’s sequel to his 2018 blockbuster, including multiple indications that the film will begin shooting in July of 2021, with a production expected to last at least six months. Obviously, there’s no word yet for how the film will attempt to move forward without Boseman’s King T’Challa at its center, but Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke and Angela Bassett are all expected to return—with at least some of THR’s sources suggesting that Wright will see an expanded role. (Her character, Shuri, was already a breakout favorite from the first film, and has taken on the mantle of the Black Panther herself in the comics.) Tenoch Huerta, from Narcos: Mexico, is also reportedly in talks to play one of the movie’s antagonists.
As THR notes, this delicate push-and-pull between decorum and the hard realities of movie-making comes at a fairly fraught time for Marvel Studios; already in the midst of a post-Endgame lacuna, 2020 ended up being the first year since 2009 not to see an MCU film land in theaters. The studio is currently still trying to figure out what to do with movies like the already-filmed Black Widow, as well as charting the course for the Disney+ MCU shows, and devising a plan to recover from the death of one of its most prominent stars. The fact that they’d have to move forward on Coogler’s film at some point was pretty much inevitable, but the level of scrutiny they’ll be under as they try to find a respectful way to handle this material in light of multiple industry-disrupting tragedies remains an extra difficulty for what was already likely to be an extremely difficult-to-make film.