Black Panther 2 may be expanding one key character’s role to help fill the immensely unfillable void left behind by the death of Chadwick Boseman. Before he could get to work on Black Panther 2 after captivating the world with the first film in the franchise in 2018, Chadwick Boseman tragically died at age 43 after a long and private battle with colon cancer. The news sent shockwaves throughout the world, particularly among Marvel Cinematic Universe fans who were excited to see him reprise his role as King T’Challa, better known as The Black Panther.
After some time of mourning, Marvel Studios announced that the sequel to Black Panther would not recast the iconic actor. Comicbook.com reports that Kevin Feige, who captains the ship at Marvel, said that Chadwick Boseman’s performance was simply too iconic to recast. Instead, the next film, titled Black Panther 2: Wakanda Forever, would explore the culture and surrounding characters of the fictional character’s kingdom — Wakanda.
Now, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Winston Duke may be among that expansion. The outlet reports that the actor was given a significant pay raise that will mark an expansion of his role in Black Panther 2, making many wonder if he may take up the mantle of the Black Panther in Boseman’s absence — thus replacing him without recasting the original star.
For those unfamiliar, Winston Duke played M’Baku, the leader of the Jabari Tribe who initially challenged King T’Challa for the throne. However, after a would-be new king took over, he allied himself with T’Challa and they became part of the same team. He was even beside the Black Panther when Thanos came-a-knocking and accompanied the rest of Wakanda’s forces to finish the Mad Titan off in New York. As that movie proved, the Black Panther is not a person but a title, given to those who are capable of leading the nation. Perhaps Black Panther 2 will find a way for T’Challa to respectfully abdicate the throne like Thor did in Avengers: Infinity War and pass the torch on to the only other man who expressed interest in it — M’Baku.
We previously reported that Winston Duke was on-hand to become the new super-powered hero in Black Panther 2 and this new report of his role being expanded only solidifies that. However, he isn’t the only character getting a more prominent role in Black Panther 2. Production on the movie is resuming again after Letitia Wright, who played Shuri in the first film and in subsequent appearances in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, injured herself while filming in August.
It has been known for a while that, after becoming one of the most popular characters in the first film, Shuri’s role would be expanded in Black Panther 2. That said, it would be a strange creative decision to make her the new Black Panther. While seeing a woman in the position would be interesting, it would be a waste of a brilliant mind on par with Tony Stark and Bruce Banner’s to suddenly make her to-go move be physical violence. Winston Duke’s M’Baku, on the other hand, would feel much more familiar in that posture.
Sadly, only time will tell what Kevin Feige and director Ryan Coogler have in mind for the future of the franchise in Black Panther 2. However, there’s a bright light at the end of the tunnel as the film is among the three poised to finally debut in 2022. So, with a little more patience, all questions will be answered soon.