The tragic death of Chadwick Boseman from cancer in 2020 changed the direction of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, as the acclaimed actor and his character, Black Panther/T’Challa, was expected to be a leader of the Marvel franchise after Avengers: Endgame. Now, director Ryan Coogler is giving fans an idea of what might have been, as he has revealed details of the Black Panther sequel script he wrote prior to his passing. According to a report by IGN (via The Hollywood Reporter), the Chadwick Boseman sequel would have been a more intimate tale that would have explored the depths of the T’Challa character.
Much like the first Black Panther, the planned sequel script had a strong focus on T’Challa’s mindset, Coogler revealed, as he learns what it means to be a leader and assume the mantle of Black Panther and the legacy it entails. “The script we wrote before Chadwick passed was very much rooted in T’Challa’s perspective,” he said. “It was a massive movie but also simultaneously a character study that delved deeply into his psyche and situation.”
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After Chadwick Boseman’s passing, Marvel had the decision to make: recast the character of T’Challa, or acknowledge the actor’s death and have a new character assume the mantle of Black Panther. As we now know, when it came time to make the sequel, the new Black Panther script incorporated Boseman’s passing into the story by having T’Challa die as well, with Wakanda’s mourning becoming a way for the cast and the audience to pay their respects.
Coogler has now revealed that the Black Panther script rewrite took the original story and shifted the perspective of a new character becoming a leader and facing the threat on their own. That appears to mean that the character of Namor – whose kingdom of Talocan declares war on Wakanda – was always going to be the antagonist. It would have been a fascinating matchup, to see Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa and Tenoch Huerta’s Namor go head-to-head in a battle for supremacy.
Although the central conflict stayed the same, the shift in focus meant Ryan Coogler and co-writer had to write a completely new Black Panther script, and it appears to now be more of an ensemble piece, as the various factions of Wakanda unite to face a common foe.
Having to introduce a new lead meant the Black Panther sequel script would have an originality that the planned sequel did not. However, given the legacy of the character established in the first film, it made sense to explore the idea of a new character becoming a new Black Panther. “The Black Panther has existed in Wakanda for centuries, so the notion of someone else picking up the mantle didn’t seem inorganic,” producer Nate Moore said.
The end result was a film that honored both a man and a character, and it had a profound effect on the actors who were still mourning the loss of a friend. “Ryan wrote something that so honored the truth of what every one of us was feeling, those of us who knew Chadwick,” Lupita Nyong’o, who plays Nakia, said. “He created something that could honour that and carry the story forward. By the end, I was weeping.”
Although the Black Panther script may have changed, the themes at the heart of the story did not, and the memory of Chadwick Boseman still looms large over the franchise. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever opens in theaters on November 11, 2022. It stars Angela Bassett as Ramonda, Danai Gurira as Okoye, Letitia Wright as Shuri, and Winston Duke as M’Baku.