With Chadwick Boseman’s untimely demise and Letitia Wright’s internet backlash, Black Panther 2 will be a tricky save for Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios.
During Thursday’s Disney Investor Day call, Kevin Feige acknowledged the demise of one of Marvel’s brightest young stars, Chadwick Boseman, MCU’s King T’Challa and Black Panther.
Boseman passed away battling colon cancer and ever since fandom and the studio is still trying to comprehend the loss. On several occasions, the cast and makers have said out loud that Boseman’s Black Panther legacy will be preserved.
Affirming that T’Challa will not be recast Feige said, “Chadwick Boseman was an immensely talented actor and an inspirational individual who affected all of our lives professionally and personally. His portrayal of T’Challa the Black Panther is iconic and transcends iteration of the character in any other medium from Marvel’s past.” He further made clear, “To honor the legacy that Chad helped us build through his portrayal of the king of Wakanda, we want to continue to explore the world of Wakanda and all of the rich and varied characters introduced in the first film.”
Watch: Kevin Feige Announcement Full Video | All Marvel Movies & TV Shows
The Real Trouble with Black Panther 2
Boseman played T’Challa so well that no actor can come close. For fans who have only seen the movies, Boseman is the spirit of Black Panther. For fans who are aware of the character from comic books, Boseman is the embodiment of their King T’Challa. In any case, the studio could have never risked the backlash coming in while re-casting the character.
Boseman is the first black live-action superhero and Black Panther was an ambitious project with all black cast and crew. The movie beautifully put together by Ryan Coogler was the genres first shot at the Academy Awards, a feat even Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight could not achieve.
Honouring Boseman’s legacy while making a multimillion-dollar movie without any backlash seems like Marvel’s biggest trouble till date. And post Disney’s Investor Day, it looks like Kevin Feige hasn’t found a solution yet.
While it is clear that the studio won’t re-cast the character, a CGI good bye has also been ruled out by the Marvel executives. In an interview with Argentine newspaper Clarin, Black Panther executive producer Victoria Alonso denied any possibility of a digital double. “No. There’s only one Chadwick, and he’s no longer with us. Sadly, our king has died in real life, not only in fiction, and we’re taking a little time to see how we continue the story and how to honour this chapter of what has unexpectedly happened to us, so painful and terrible to be honest,” she said.
So with both the possibilities ruled out, the right (and comic book) way of going about it is to pass on the mantle. In marvel comics when a character is absent due to some reason, another character would take it up! For example, in comic’s Civil War when T’Challa was incapacitated, Shuri took up the mantle of Black Panther. On occasions Monica Rambeau and Ms Marvel both took up Captain Marvel’s mantel in Carol Danvers’ absence.
Letitia Wright Brings Trouble To Black Panther 2
Going by the Marvel comic way of doing things, Shuri looks like the right contender of the mantle. Played by Letitia Wright in the MCU, Shuri is a fan-favourite character and could give Tony Stark and Bruce Banner a run for their money. She is sharp, smart, witty, enabled and everything else we need to see on the big screen in Black Panther 2.
Till recently, a big chunk of the fandom swayed towards the idea of Letitia Wright to take up the mantle in Black Panther 2. However, Wright recently got into a Twitter dissension when she tweeted a video that warned against taking Coronavirus vaccines and said China is responsible for spreading the pandemic among other things. Wright being dubbed an anti-vaxxer did not go down well with the fandom and some even called out to re-cast her in the BP movie.
However, since then Wright has deactivated her Twitter account after issuing an apology. But the fandom won’t forget! It’s unclear whether she went off the social media as a personal decision or whether it was a contingency PR plan by Marvel. The studio can’t take such incidences easily as a lot depends on fan service and an actor’s public image.
In recent months, Marvel has been pumping up Shuri’s character with increased public visibility of Wright, releasing an in-canon book Wakanda Files from the characters point of view, and even Feige stating in interviews, the character’s importance in the MCU going forward. So, the backlash coming in from the actor’s part can’t be taken too lightly at this stage.
Who can take up the Black Panther’s mantle?
The backlash now has added more problems to the studio’s existing delicate Black Panther situation. While Shuri gets major backlash, the other options that fandom sways towards are Okoye (Danai Gurira), M’Baku (Winston Duke) and even Michael B Jordan’s Erik Killmonger (though he’d have to be resurrected from dead).
Honestly, none of these characters are as developed as Shuri is. While Feige mentioned during Disney’s presentation that MCU will explore other characters from Wakanda, the acceptance of those is still questionable.
Ryan Coogler, in his parting note to Boseman had revealed he spent months writing lines that he’ll never see Chadwick say. Fans are in the same boat! No matter how hard Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige try to save the Black Panther 2, a section of fans is going to be unhappy. Really, really unhappy!
Black Panther 2 releases July, 8, 2022.
RIP Chadwick Boseman, the star who made Black Panther a legend. Long live his legacy.