Before the production of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever began, the world unfortunately lost its leading man, Chadwick Boseman. In the wake of Boseman's death, Marvel chose not to recast T’Challa. Even before the Wakanda Forever teaser trailer premiered, fans were spewing out a wider range of opinions online over whether the lead role should’ve been recast. The debate led to an online petition being created to have another actor play the Wakandian king. It still rages on as the sequel’s release date draws closer, and along with Marvel giving its take on the matter, one of the cast has now spoken up on the subject. Black Panther star Winston Duke explained why he’s glad Boseman’s T’Challa wasn’t recast.
Of course, fans weren’t the only ones mourning Chadwick Boseman’s passing, as the cast and crew lost not only a co-star, but a family member. Director Ryan Coogler revealed he almost quit filmmaking following the Oscar nominee’s death. Two years after Boseman's death, the online uproar over recasting T’Challa has reached a fever pitch. While the cast, for the most part, has ignored it, Duke faced the pushback head-on during his interview on the Jemele Hill is Unbothered podcast. The Black Panther 2 star was candid as he explained why not recasting Boseman’s T’Challa was the right one.
The personal connection between the late Boseman and the Wakandian king was inevitable from the first moment he appeared in Captain America: Civil War. As Duke pointed out, casting the late actor as the Marvel hero involved taking on every side of its leading star. Despite the push for a recast, the character has been unfortunately defined by Boseman’s portrayal. If Marvel had listened to fans and cast another actor, the person and the studio may have received some backlash from those same fans. It could’ve tainted the new movie’s reception.
Winston Duke stood by Marvel’s sensitive decision. He knew the decision was more about paying tribute to Boseman’s T’Challa, especially as the sequel deals with the late star’s real-life death. The M’Baku actor also may have alluded to more than one Black Panther, as he brought up the MCU’s multiverse angle.
With Wakanda Forever serving as Phase 4’s finale, a new Black Panther could pop up at some point in Phases 5 or 6. Fans have seen this scenario play out in Spider-Man: No Way Home, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness also delivered some big multiversal cameos. So it could be a possibility in the future.
The recasting debate goes beyond Chadwick Boseman, as the Black Panther 2 trailer led to another debate over a woman taking up the mantle. Despite Marvel keeping T’Challa’s successor a secret, most fans have guessed that the fallen Wakandian king’s tech-savvy sister Shuri is in the suit. Others have thrown Ironheart’s Riri Williams and the Avenger’s love interest Nakia as feasible options.
Fans will have to wait until Black Panther: Wakanda Forever drops on November 11 to see who the new Black Panther is. While the sequel marks the end of Phase 4, there are upcoming Marvel movies to look forward to over the next year or so.
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