Chadwick Boseman’s passing over the summer was one of the sadder stories to come out of Hollywood in some time. That it was completely unexpected and seemed to come completely out of nowhere made it particularly tough for fans of the actor. He was taken much too young and left behind a body of work on screen that speaks for itself. One of those projects was Black Panther and it wasn’t totally clear how the franchise would move forward without its star. But now we are starting to get word of how the next movie will address Boseman’s and by proxy, the character’s, death.
Having the star and face of a franchise leave the work midstream is a difficult piece even in the best of circumstances. Having to move on because the actor passed away makes it an even more brutal situation. The studio had already signaled they had no immediate or future plans to recast Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa/ Black Panther character. That was a relief. But it did lead to speculation about how they would address the character no longer being in the universe. From these rumors, it appears T’Challa’s death will mirror Boseman’s: the character will have died from an illness.
Since Marvel Studios wouldn’t recast the character and instead would have T’Challa die in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there was some curiosity how the movies would move forward without the character. Because the sequel was still very much in the works and Marvel showed no indication of discontinuing the franchise. This month they announced that Letitia Wright’s Shuri, sister to T’Challa, would take up the mantle as the next Black Panther and additionally the throne of Wakanda.
Chadwick Boseman passed away in late August after a battle with colon cancer. The news came as a major shock seeing as how few knew he’d been diagnosed at all. Though he’d shown dramatic weight loss in some recent roles, it wasn’t clear that the reason was side effects to his diagnosis. Some speculated other issues going on with the actor, but those were unfounded. He was just very sick but chose to not let the world know about it.
Black Panther, thanks in large part to Chadwick Boseman’s charisma and stoicism on screen, was a massive success when it hit screens in 2018. It earned more than 1.3 billion (that’s with a “b”) dollars at the box office. At the time, it became the highest-grossing superhero film of all time in North America. Overall, it finished fifth in box office gross for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Whether Black Panther can move on following the passing of Chadwick Boseman remains a little unclear. He was literally the face of the franchise. But it is encouraging he wasn’t recast and that the studio plans to have his on-screen death mirror what happened in real life. It seems like something of a realistic end for the character who will not have died in battle against some enemy opponent. Rather T’Challa will follow Boseman in much the same way. It’s sad, but rather fitting.