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Marvel VP Discusses Decision Not to Recast T’Challa in Wakanda Forever

Long live the King.

 

chadwick boseman

In a recent podcast with The RingerVerse, Marvel Studios VP of Development Nate Moore explicitly stated that the decision not to recast T’Challa was made in a fast conversation with the director of both Black Panther and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Ryan Coogler. Moore admitted that it was a daunting task to change the direction of the franchise. However, they know it was the right decision.

Something brought up at the end of the clip (which is a shorter section of this podcast episode) is that mourning the loss of T’Challa and moving forward with the characters can act as a cathartic release. Chadwick passed away in August of last year, but because projects like Marvel’s What If…? and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom released after, it doesn’t, at least to the public, feel like he is really gone.

We’ve all gone through a lot, and when we start to revisit these connected stories in theaters (like Spider-Man in December, for example) it is recapturing something lost before the pandemic. Because Coogler and Joe Robert Cole didn’t shy away from discussions of family and death, I’m confident in their talents to handle it well. The respect given to the character and Chadwick in their decision solidifies that confidence.

To the people calling to #RecastTchalla #NoTchallaNoTicket

Leaving my algorithmic bubble, I saw a lot of people actually upset about this confirmation. Multiverse aside for a second, many were upset that there have been so many popular white superheroes cast over and over again. Many are saying “it’s not fair” that only one Black man gets to be T’Challa.

This is not comparing apples to apples. Each Spider-man was recast for a new Spider-Man series, same with Batman, Superman, etc. Wakanda Forever, as far as we know, is still on the MCU’s “Earth 616” and not an entirely new cast. When Heath Ledger died before The Dark Knight finished, he wasn’t recast for The Dark Knight Rises either, even though the character is the most popular villain in comic book history and was still alive at the end of the second movie.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that it is also really rude to even be complaining about it, even if you disagree with the decision. Bringing up how it might cause the downfall of the series (like people were saying about the live-action Transformers) … maybe, but also trying to act like anyone could pull off what Boseman did is naive. Boseman not only engages as the character onscreen but understood how he represented something more than himself or the character. There were even jokes about how he started to look a little tired doing the “Wakanda forever” sign all the time.

If climate change or an asteroid hasn’t hit us yet, in a few decades, they probably will recast T’Challa. Physical/e comics do resets to draw in younger and new readers who are overwhelmed about the nearly a century’s worth of material on one character. With the number of shows, movies, etc. the MCU is pumping out at this point, it would not surprise me if in the 2030s or 2040s they started fresh again in some way to pull in people that feel too overwhelmed to watch decades of shows and movies just to understand.

The Multiverse is coming

The most telling part of the short clip, came from Moore confirming that this T’Challa won’t be recast. He didn’t say this Black Panther, because anyone can be the Black Panther (this is canon, y’all). He said 616 T’Challa. Between Loki, the upcoming Spider-Man: No Way Home, and other end-credit stuff I don’t want to spoil, the multiverse is bursting at the seams.

I would love to see Michael B. Jordan (Killmonger), Winston Duke (M’Baku), Danai Gurira (Okoye), or a new person take on the mantle in another timeline. Maybe it can be strictly matriarchal, including who dons the suit? Maybe we get a young boy T’Challa following his parents around or an older man T’Challa (like Miller’s Batman or Old Man Logan)? Wakanda could be a floating city, or under the Atlantic saving the lives of those thrown over board during the Middle Passage (a theme touched on by many contemporary Black SFF writers.)

The point is, the possibilities are endless, and moving on for now is the best decision for the story and, more importantly, to show respect for the legacy and lives touched by Boseman’s portrayal of Black Panther.

(via RingerVerse, image: Matt Kennedy / Marvel Studios.)

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(she/her) Award-winning digital artist and blogger with an interest in art, politics, identity, and history—especially when they all come together. This Texan balances book-buying blurs with liberal Libby use.