As more details surrounding the untimely death of Chadwick Boseman surface, the thing that becomes most clear is just how kind and inspirational of a man the world has lost. The years he spent living with the knowledge of his cancer, while continuing to make movies and uplift others, only further amplify the altruistic nature that everyone came to know him by.
After news of Boseman’s death rocked the world, fans reeled back anytime the notion of recasting T’Challa was floated. For one, Boseman largely defined the character of T’Challa for an entire generation, and aside from that, pretty much everyone agreed that it was far too soon for such talks, given that the world is still mourning the loss of such an important real-life hero.
Recently, though, fans have begun taking their own route, by suggesting an approach that is less about the demise of T’Challa, and more about securing Chadwick Boseman’s legacy — by, in a respectful manner, placing someone new on the throne.
Fans are calling for a new Black Panther, instead of a recast
First off, while it is visibly apparent that no decisions need to be made about this right now, there will be a certain point in the future where audiences will expect (and demand) a Black Panther 2 if only to honor the important legacy that Boseman has set the foundation for. Marvel will have to be extremely careful about how best to approach the project without disrespecting Chadwick Boseman’s memory.
Luckily, fans are lending the studio a hand and taking to the internet to give their opinions on the matter. The first thing that becomes clear, if the flood of responses on Twitter is any indication, is that the notion of recasting T’Challa with a new actor will not be greeted well: as one fan tweeted, “Do not recast Black Panther. Let our king rest in peace.” So, how should the story continue?
Obviously, Marvel can’t do an entire film with a digitally recreated Boseman, a la Carrie Fisher in Star Wars. While audiences could, perhaps, accept a scene or two of this, having a creepy, resurrected CGI T’Challa for the film’s duration wouldn’t be feasible.
That means, most likely, a new character must be elevated to the throne, which leaves a few options. Okoye, certainly, would be a worthy candidate. M’Baku is another one, given that the first film made his interest in ruling quite clear.
However, a more clear path forward is already laid out in the comic books, and fans are already calling for the MCU to follow suit. After all, the structure is in place, and it actually makes a lot of sense.
Shuri should be the new Black Panther
Fans have already begun petitions calling for the Black Panther mantle to be passed down to T’Challa’s younger sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright). Why? Because not only has Shuri been the Black Panther in the comics, during a popular 2009 storyline, but when it comes to respectfully lay T’Challa to rest, the film could use these same comics for inspiration.
The storyline in question sees Latverian dictator Doctor Doom — the biggest Marvel villain who has not yet entered the MCU, and one who has occasionally been rumored as a Black Panther 2 villain — joining a sort of anti-Avengers known as the Cabal, whose membership includes Namor, the King of Atlantis, a guy who tends to switch sides a lot. T’Challa is offered a place on this team by Namor, and he obviously refuses.
In response, Doom proceeds to swoop down and attack T’Challa, leaving Wakanda’s king in a comatose state. At this point, it falls on Wakanda’s princess, Shuri, to undergo her own trials and tribulations, as she must finally claim the role of Black Panther for herself. This doesn’t go smoothly — in fact, as SyFy Wire explains, Shuri’s own hubris initially causes the Panther God to reject her — but she goes on to prove herself as a worthy Black Panther.
This path forward is, quite likely, something that the studio is considering, given the fan base’s support. Comics featuring the first appearance of Shuri have already seen a spike in value, according to Bleeding Cool. Whatever decisions are made, though, it’s unlikely that any motions will be made until some years in the future. Which is good, and right, since everyone certainly needs more time to remember Boseman’s inspirational words, honor his legacy, and rewatch all of his films.