The ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ Opening Crawl Broke My Damn Heart
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has arrived, and it’s not just a thrilling Marvel epic—it’s also a tender, moving tribute to the late actor Chadwick Boseman, who played King T’Challa in the first Black Panther in 2018. Our Princess Weekes has written about what a beautiful vessel the movie is for fans mourning Boseman and T’Challa. As the characters work through their grief and try to figure out what’s next after the death of their king, the audience is given space to process our own grief alongside them. Director Ryan Coogler made sure to get every detail in this movie right—even down to the opening crawl.
Marvel uses its intro to honor Chadwick Boseman.
Marvel fans all recognize the Marvel Studios opening crawl: a montage of Marvel Cinematic Universe characters set against rousing orchestral music, which culminates in the Marvel Studios logo. Marvel often has fun with the crawl, setting a hand-drawn version to The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” for Ms. Marvel, or replacing the orchestra with electric guitars in Thor: Love and Thunder. It’s become a minor tradition for Marvel fans to see which characters get added or switched up in the montage.
Two years ago, after Boseman passed, Marvel released an alternate version of the opening crawl online. Instead of the usual montage of characters, the crawl features numerous shots of T’Challa against a purple backdrop.
Now, Marvel is using that same intro for Wakanda Forever. Instead of being set to music, the opening crawl is silent. It’s a powerful experience to see it on the big screen—when I saw it, the reverent silence was punctuated only by the scattered sounds of quiet crying in the audience.
Why the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever intro hits so hard
This section contains minor spoilers for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Boseman’s passing was a profound loss for so many reasons. For Marvel fans—especially Black Marvel fans—it left a gaping hole in the MCU where a beloved character had once been. For movie fans everywhere, Boseman’s passing meant the loss of a staggering talent, along with countless films that could have been. And for those who knew Boseman personally, the loss is incalculable.
The movie does such a good job of capturing that loss, and channeling it through the plot, that it almost feels like metafiction. When Shuri finds out that T’Challa has died, we experience the shock of learning about Boseman’s passing all over again. During the funeral scene, we feel like we’re taking part in T’Challa’s memorial. And when Shuri reminisces about T’Challa during her own private memorial, the footage we see from the first Black Panther film serves as a moving coda to Boseman’s brief but powerful tenure as Black Panther.
When the opening crawl first appears at the beginning of the film, it signals to the audience that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever isn’t just another Marvel movie. As Coogler said at San Diego Comic-Con 2022, “We put our love for Chadwick into this film and we also put our passion.” The crawl conveys that love and passion, and serves as a fitting intro for a poignant film.
(featured image: Marvel Entertainment)
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