Love it or hate it, you may think Disney+’s new animated series What If…? couldn’t possibly have that much of an impact on the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. But according to Kevin Feige, the second episode of the new series in which Chadwick Boseman voices T’Challa — but an alternate version who replaces Peter Quill as Star-Lord — was set to change the live-action version of the character in Black Panther 2.
As we’ve known since June, Chadwick Boseman’s final performance as T’Challa doesn’t take place in a live-action film like 2019’s Avengers: Endgame, but in the animated series What If…? We first see the animated T’Challa in the second episode released today, What If… T’Challa Became a Star-Lord? According to Kevin Feige, it was after reading for that episode that Boseman started the conversation that would have changed his character significantly in Black Panther 2.
Speaking to Variety on the red carpet for the world premiere of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Feige said that Chadwick Boseman “really loved” the version of T’Challa who takes to the stars with Yondu and his Ravagers. Feige added that he and Boseman spoke to Black Panther writer/director Ryan Coogler about incorporating more of the What If…? character’s voice into Black Panther 2. You can watch Feige speaking about it below.
While Feige understandably didn’t get into details since at the time the episode still hadn’t been released, now that it’s available for streaming, we can make some guesses as to what Chadwick Boseman enjoyed so much about this new version of T’Challa. We should warn you that minor Spoilers for episode two of What If…? follow.
In particular, the Star-Lord version of T’Challa seems like a much more fun-loving version of the hero. For example, there’s the witty repartee he engages in while fighting Korath — as opposed to the grunts, yells, and angry accusations Chadwick Boseman yells while fighting Bucky in Captain America: Civil War. Even young T’Challa (voice by Maddix Robinson) responds to being kidnapped by the Ravagers by looking up in wonder and saying “Cool,” as opposed to the young Peter Quill of 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy, who understandably screams in terror.
Tragically, we’ll never get to see what Chadwick Boseman’s and Ryan Coogler’s new interpretation of T’Challa would have been. Last August 28, Boseman’s family announced over his Twitter feed that the actor had been diagnosed with stage three colon cancer in 2016 and that he had succumbed to the disease. Four months later at the Disney Investors Day presentation, Feige confirmed (via Entertainment Weekly) that T’Challa would not be recast.
Chadwick Boseman’s absence from the sequel — the title of which, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, was revealed in May — has led to a good deal of speculation as to who, if anyone, will take up the mantle of Black Panther. The leading contender is Letitia Wright’s Shuri, whose comic book counterpart likewise became Black Panther for a time. Precious few details have been released about the sequel, although we did get a pretty brief behind the scenes video in July.