As difficult as it is to envision Black Panther 2 without Chadwick Boseman, it’s something Marvel will have to confront eventually. The actor captivated audiences in 2018’s Black Panther playing T’Challa, king and protector of the fictional nation of Wakanda, and many were looking forward to a 2022 sequel. But unbeknownst to fans, Boseman had been diagnosed with colon cancer even before the first film came out, and tragically, he at 43.
While recasting is nothing new in superhero films, the death of a young, vibrant actor who embodied the role so perfectly isn’t the same as other situations. Entertainment Weekly reported the obvious: Fans cannot imagine Boseman being replaced in the role. The franchise can move on, but it will have to do so carefully and respectfully.
Latest news: Filming in summer? Narcos star?
As of Nov. 20, there was some news on a second film. Filming for Black Panther 2 now is tentatively scheduled to begin in July 2021, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
A representative for Disney did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation, and THR isn’t naming sources, but it seems a likely timeline. With word in late 2020 ofmoving forward, Marvel has to be hoping Hollywood will be cranking back into gear by next summer, as the world tries to move on from the devastating pandemic. If ever Earth could use a superhero, it’s now.
The Hollywood Reporter says the production will start filming in Atlanta in July and continue for upwards of six months. It also suggested that Narcos: Mexico star Tenoch Huerta may join the cast.
The new Black Panther
As devastating as Boseman’s death is, there can’t be a new Black Panther film without someone else taking on the hero’s mantle.
It seems most likely that the Black Panther title could pass to another character, and a favorite has to be Letitia Wright’s Shuri. She’s T’Challa’s sister, and royal family ties run deep.
But Shuri can’t just move into the part with no explanation. It’s always possible there’s unused footage from the first film or from other Avengers movies that could be spliced in to set up T’Challa’s departure, or it could be addressed verbally without new footage of Boseman.
There’s precedent for honoring such a loss. Actress Carrie Fisher died in 2016, and yet her character, General Leia, appeared briefly in the 2019 film Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.used previous footage and treated the actress and beloved character respectfully.
The rest of the cast — and a new villain?
Before the news of Boseman’s passing, the sequel seemed to be assembling a familiar group. Director Ryan Coogler, who also co-wrote the first film’s screenplay, was returning. Observers were assuming most of the original cast would be back, with Martin Freeman, who plays CIA agent Everett Ross, and Danai Gurira, who plays Okoye, head of the Dora Milaje, Wakanda’s all-female special forces, both confirming their return.
There were several rumors about the film’s villains. Some buzzed that Michael B. Jordan would be somehow return as Erik Killmonger, even though that might take some doing, considering what happened to him in the first film. And We Got This Covered reported that Marvel Comics standby Namor the Sub-Mariner would show up and attempt to take over Wakanda. Namor is an underwater-dwelling mutant who’s half-human, half-Atlantean (like Aquaman, but from Marvel).
Coogler told Yahoo Movies he had interest in another Panther villain, Kraven the Hunter, but it sounds as if the Sony series of movies has plans for Kraven, likely in a Spider-Man movie.
“I’ve always loved Kraven the Hunter in almost every iteration,” Coogler said. “So there was a moment — ‘Can I grab Kraven?’ — and they were ‘Nah, you don’t have Kraven.’ He was one where I thought ‘Oh, man.’ But I don’t even know if he would have worked in the movie we ended up with, this was the early days.”
Plot and setting: Wakanda Forever
As far as plot, Feige told Entertainment Weekly there was “a pretty solid direction on where we want to head with the second one.” Black Panther has a rich history in the comics, and many of those stories would translate well to the big screen. He’s fought the KKK, battled a coup from within Wakanda, dealt with a Skrull invasion and saved Queen Ramonda from a white supremacist.
The film’s setting was obvious. By finally showing T’Challa’s homeland of Wakanda on screen, Black Panther handed Marvel a new and creative setting not just for Black Panther solo movies, but for visits from his colleagues in the Avengers. Almost the entire third act of Avengers: Infinity War was set in the fictional African nation.
The first Black Panther was such an enormous success there’s no way it will only have one sequel — assuming fans accept whichever actor takes on the hero’s title.
“Panther obviously is a big swing that we hope to continue through many sequels and take some of these characters and put them in other franchises because I do think there’s a way to cross-pollinate in an interesting way,” producer Nate Moore told Screen Rant in 2018.
Long live the King
Any new Black Panther films, however, will forever be touched by the memory of Chadwick Boseman, the man who played the role so well.
“He was as smart and kind and powerful and strong as any person he portrayed,” Feige said. “Now he takes his place alongside them as an icon for the ages.”