Chadwick Boseman’s death over the summer sent shock waves throughout the movie world and beyond. Few knew he was even sick, so when we heard of his unfortunate passing, it was a bit tough to even process. Though not discussed at the time, because Hollywood was reeling from the news, was the fate of his signature franchise, Black Panther. Would those movies continue without Boseman as the face/ main character? Now we have official word that Black Panther 2 will happen and that production has already begun on the sequel.
News about the sequel and how the franchise plans to replace Chadwick Boseman isn’t entirely clear at this point, though some of the early casting news points to a direction the franchise might take. For starters, Ryan Coogler is back in the director’s chair after helming the first Black Panther. Additionally, Letitia Wright will also return in her role as Shuri, T’Challa’s younger sister. Speculation has it that she could take up the mantle as Black Panther moving forward. As the princess of Wakanda, she would *technically* be next in line to don the suit and lead the kingdom. There’s some precedent for this in the comic books as well. And the studio has already signaled this would most likely be the case, with Shuri likely ruling over Wakanda in T’Challa’s stead.
While Chadwick Boseman’s tragic death leaves a hole in the franchise, plans to move ahead with the sequel were probably a foregone conclusion. There are a number of ways to pivot the story that would make sense in the franchise’s world. Another rumor has Tenoch Huerto in line to possibly play Namor The Submariner. The character is still a property of Universal Studios (along with Hulk) but can take part in movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe without actually having a headlining feature.
Having Chadwick Boseman no longer part of the movie franchise would open up storylines involving Shuri in her battles with Namor. There is some precedent for this rivalry in the original Black Panther publications with Shuri even taking the mantle of Black Panther in later issues. Having this be the new storyline with Namor as the antagonist would make sense from a plot perspective. They did battle on the printed pages and likely will on-screen as well.
This is still very early in the process. According to reports, principal photography for Black Panther 2 isn’t planned to get started until July 2021. That’s more than eight months to begin rounding out the cast, the plot arcs, and how they plan to write around Chadwick Boseman’s departure as well. It’s already reported that along with Wright and Huerto, Angela Bassett will reprise her role as Ramonda and Winston Duke will be back as M’Baku. Familiar faces will abound in the proposed sequel.
Black Panther 2 is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Five with films coming out in 2022 and beyond. Other movies in that group include Captain Marvel 2, Ant-Man 3, Fantastic Four, Blade, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. While it will be sad and a bit weird to never see Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa again, especially considering how he fully embodied the role, it is somewhat comforting knowing the franchise will continue with strong characters.