The release of the Black Panther sequel is sure to dredge up feelings about the death of Chadwick Boseman, one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s most beloved stars. While most of the details of Wakanda Forever are still under wraps, we know that the movie will deal with the loss of King T’Challa in some form. And according to MCU overlord Kevin Feige, there was never a question of having another actor step into T’Challa’s shoes.
“It just felt like it was much too soon to recast,” Feige tells Empire magazine in a new interview. “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 [director] Ryan [Coogler] poured that into the story.”
He continues, “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.”
While for many fans it would undoubtedly feel inappropriate for there to suddenly be another T’Challa, Feige and Coogler clearly didn’t feel it was too soon to have a character assume the mantle. The trailer for Wakanda Forever suggests we’ll be introduced to a new Black Panther very soon.
As bittersweet as it is, the idea is actually in keeping with this phase of the MCU, in which Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova will become the new Black Widow and Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson is the new Captain America. New heroes taking on old titles is a common feature in comic books, and it feels like an organic evolution for the MCU’s future. Wakanda Forever’s job is to do so in a way that honors the characters’ grief over T’Challa and the audience’s grief over Boseman.