The success of Marvel’s Black Panther left droves of fans excited to see what Chadwick Boseman (T’Challa) had in store for the hit franchise next. After the actor’s death following a long, highly secretive experience with cancer, a question on the minds of many immediately surfaced above the rest: Who will portray Black Panther now that the actor who portrayed him so flawlessly is gone?
With Black Panther 2 still months away, there’s still a lot we don’t know about the sequel’s cast and the story it will tell following Chadwick’s death. Fans are divided on the subject of whether or not the actor should be replaced. The higher-ups at Marvel, however, have clarified one important piece of the puzzle.
Kevin Feige said Chadwick Boseman will not be replaced.
August 2020 marked the end of a life that will never be forgotten. When it was revealed that Chadwick had been living privately with cancer for years, his death hit even harder. The actor spent the time he had left bringing others joy. It’s impossible to predict how Marvel will ensure his memory survives on-screen, but the studio behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe has already taken steps to pay respects to both the actor and the character he portrayed in several of its films.
In November 2020, Marvel celebrated Chadwick’s birthday with a redesigned Black Panther intro on Disney Plus that featured images of the actor as T’Challa in the MCU. In January 2021, Marvel Comics revealed that one of its writers had named a helicarrier Boseman as a nod to the late actor. In addition to these tributes, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige wants to make sure Boseman’s legacy as T’Challa remains as-is.
It’s unclear where T’Challa’s story may have been heading next following the universe-altering Avengers movies in 2018 and 2019. Tony Stark/Iron Man’s death would have allowed Black Panther and other heroes to embark on individual and shared journeys within and outside of the post-Snap world. Chadwick’s death may have changed Marvel’s future plans in ways fans will never know about.
However, Kevin Feige took the opportunity at Disney Investor Day in late 2020 to clarify that the role of T’Challa will not be recast. He said that Chadwick’s performance is “iconic and transcends any iteration of the character in any other medium from Marvel’s past, and it’s for that reason, that we will not react the character.”
There may be no better way to honor Chadwick’s performance and his impact on the Marvel franchise — and on the real world — than to make him the last person to portray T’Challa in the MCU. But just because the late actor’s specific role won’t be replaced doesn’t mean Black Panther the character is done.
Here’s how ‘Black Panther 2’ can go on without T’Challa.
There is a good chance another actor will eventually portray the character of Black Panther, but not as a direct replacement of Chadwick. In the MCU, Black Panther is an earned title not limited to a specific person. Anyone who completes the necessary steps to become Black Panther has that right. So even if T’Challa’s death were to occur offscreen somehow, Black Panther could very easily still live on.
Shuri taking on the role is both a popular theory and a high possibility. As T’Challa’s sister and a huge fan favorite, she seems like the character best suited (no pun intended) to carry on as Black Panther in honor of both her brother and Chadwick himself.
Though there have been multiple reports that Letitia Wright (Shuri) will take on the role, nothing has been officially confirmed. Fan casts for the next Black Panther continue to appear, but a different character acquiring the title and leaving T’Challa as an impactful memory is the route Marvel seems most likely to take. Whatever happens, one truth remains: There will never be another Black Panther quite like Chadwick Boseman. Long live the king.