Chadwick Boseman’s tragic and surprising passing on August 28, 2020, after a four year battle with colon cancer, was a heartbreaking loss of a great person and talent gone far too soon. Even having only been in the entertainment industry for a few years, Chadwick Boseman’s work and legacy will remain prescient and powerful for the foreseeable future, a star whose light won’t dim any time soon.
Chadwick Boseman’s most famous role was as T’Challa and Black Panther in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, 2018’s Black Panther, and Avengers: Infinity War, and was last seen in 2019’s Avengers: Endgame. At the time of his death, Boseman was still preparing to appear in Black Panther 2, scheduled for release on May 6, 2022. That was a testament to his strength even as times were unimaginably tough. Of course, any future Black Panther film will be a celebration of Boseman’s life and legacy, a true superhero, both on-screen and off.
Disney has been understandably quiet about the future of Black Panther in their Marvel Cinematic Universe, letting some time pass before doling out information about what their next steps are after the passing of Chadwick Boseman. One theory from Daniel Richtman’s Patreon site says that Marvel might look to how another Disney franchise handled the passing of one of its stars. Richtman states, “I hear that Marvel might go the Carrie Fisher route by having a CGI double cameo to give Chadwick’s character closure.”
This is certainly an option that Marvel could take, as the technology is absolutely there, but this choice becomes a question of whether or not Marvel can do this with tact and good taste. Surely, Marvel will want to pay tribute to Chadwick Boseman in some way, likely as early as adding a tribute in Black Widow, which will be released on May 7, 2021. Even if Marvel doesn’t have a CGI version of Chadwick Boseman in an upcoming Black Panther 2, it won’t be the last we’ve seen of Boseman’s T’Challa. In the upcoming What If…? animated series, coming to Disney+ in 2021, Boseman will play a Star-Lord version of T’Challa, which shows what it would be like if the worlds of Guardians of the Galaxy and Black Panther came together. There has been no statement from Marvel as to whether or not Black Panther 2’s current release date of May 6, 2022, will be pushed back or not.
Black Panther’s writer and director Ryan Coogler and Marvel have come out and said that they were not made aware of Chadwick Boseman’s illness. Coogler has said in a statement about the passing of Chadwick Boseman, “I spent the last year preparing, imagining and writing words for him to say, that we weren’t destined to see. It leaves me broken knowing that I won’t be able to watch another close-up of him in the monitor again or walk up to him and ask for another take.”
Fans seem to be torn on what should happen next to the character of Black Panther. Some have said that Marvel and Disney should retire the character as a tribute to Chadwick Boseman, while rumors have continued that Letitia Wright, who plays Shuri, might take up the mantle of her brother, T’Challa, or that some other actor might become the new Black Panther.
Chadwick Boseman’s final onscreen performance can be seen later this year in Netflix’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, scheduled for release on December 18, 2020.