On 28th August 2020, Chadwick Boseman, best known for playing the role of Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe lost his long battle with cancer. Diagnosed with Stage III Colon Cancer in 2016, Chadwick Boseman kept his illness as a secret and continued to star in widely acclaimed movies.
Making his first appearance in Captain America: Civil War as Prince T’Challa of Wakanda, Chadwick Boseman quickly became a fan favorite despite having a limited screen time in the movie. In 2018, Chadwick Boseman starred as the titular character in Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther. As the first superhero movie with a black protagonist, Black Panther quickly became a global phenomenon that took the box-office with a storm.
In just a span of four years, Chadwick Boseman starred in nine movies while battling stage III colon cancer. Maintaining absolute secrecy regarding his cancer diagnosis, his rapid weight loss and vomiting in sets were considered to be his dedication to prepare for an unknown future role. But unfortunately, his long battle with cancer exacerbated as it progressed to stage IV.
His last movie which was released when he was still alive was Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods. Released on Netflix, Chadwick Boseman starred in Da 5 Bloods as Stormin’ Norman who led a group of soldiers in the Vietnam War. The movie also starred Delroy Lindo, Jonathan Majors, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis, and Isiah Whitlock Jr.
Prior to joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman was known for his portrayal of real-life characters on the big screen. His portrayal of Floyd Little (The Express: The Ernie Davis Story), Jackie Robinson (42), James Brown (Get On Up), and Thurgood Marshall (Marshall) had received critical acclaim.
His heartbreaking untimely departure was devastating news for fans and friends across the globe. Moments after his death was announced through his official Twitter handle, his fellow actors Chris Evans, Don Cheadle, Brie Larson, Karen Gillan, David Bautista, Chris Pratt, Mark Ruffalo, Mark Hamill, Samuel L. Jackson, and many other celebrities shared their grief with heartful statements on social media platforms.
Head of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige, also paid tribute to the charismatic actor, stating that his loss was “absolutely devastating”. Disney’s Bob Iger also expressed his grief and said “Chadwick Boseman was an extraordinary talent, and one of the most gentle and giving souls I have ever met.”
As millions of fans are reeling from Boseman’s utterly heartbreaking departure, Marvel Studios now walks on thin ice with the future of Black Panther. In 2019, Kevin Feige had announced that the sequel to Black Panther was in development with Ryan Coogler returning as the director. But with Chadwick Boseman’s death, the future of Wakanda looks bleak.
According to a few sources, Black Panther 2 was going to be a pivotal movie for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. From introducing Namor the Submariner to fighting Doctor Victor Von Doom, the movie was set to explore the mythos of Wakanda and its benevolent ruler. But with Boseman gone, what options can Marvel explore?
Re-Casting Black Panther
Having become an integral part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Black Panther was supposed to be one of the mainstream heroes for the next few years. Unfortunately, Boseman’s untimely death has derailed the plans of exploring the stories of Black Panther for now.
If Marvel Studios wishes to stick to its plan and release the sequel on the slated date of May 6, 2022, the only option left is to hire a new actor to replace the late Chadwick Boseman. As the character of King T’Challa was planned to stick for a couple of years, digitally recreating Boseman will not be a viable solution.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is not new to re-casting as Edward Norton was replaced by Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk. Similarly, Don Cheadle replaced Terrence Howard for the role of Colonel Rhodes/War Machine. But, Boseman’s untimely death puts enormous responsibilities with large shoes to fill. In just four years, Chadwick Boseman left a trailblazing legacy that Marvel Studios would not be tampering with lest attract fierce backlash from the fans.
Make Shuri The Next Black Panther
In the comics, Shuri is the successor of T’Challa and becomes the next Black Panther. In Black Panther, Shuri (Letitia Wright) became a fan favorite for her genius intellect and irreverent sense of humor.
Shuri also played a vital role in Avengers: Infinity War which makes the decision of making her the next Black Panther a logical step. But her young age might be a hindrance to carry on the legacy of her brother T’Challa.
Use The Multiverse
As Sam Raimi’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will explore the multiverse for the first time, Marvel Studios can get a bit creative to introduce a brand new Black Panther and continue the story.
Though the multiverse can offer a solution to replace Boseman’s Black Panther, it doesn’t show how Marvel can retire Boseman in the storyline. Nonetheless, introducing a Black Panther from the multiverse would be a respectful gesture to establish Chadwick Boseman as the original Black Panther without tampering with his legacy.
Take A Hiatus
By far the most logical step, for now, taking a hiatus from Black Panther is what Marvel Studios really need at the moment. The loss of Chadwick Boseman has been devastating which must have severely affected his cast members from the movie.
As millions of fans and friends of the actor are reeling across the globe, we believe King T’Challa’s wise words from Captain America: Civil War might be of some respite for everyone.
Fortunately, we might get a last glimpse of Chadwick Boseman as both Black Panther and Star-Lord in the upcoming What If…? animated series on Disney+. Till then, rest in power, King T’Challa. Wakanda Forever!