Marvel Should Recast T’Challa
I am a Marvel fan who loves the entire Avengers franchise and watch all the films. Although I don’t have encyclopedic knowledge of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I know enough about the characters to know that Black Panther is one of the most powerful characters in the entire thing.
Chadwick Boseman’s passing from colon cancer on August 30, 2020 shocked the world. STUNNED. To say no one saw it coming is the understatement of the year. Hell, there are still times when I forget he actually died and I remember, and the gut punch feels fresh. He was so young, so full of life, it seems. We didn’t know he spent 4 years battling cancer, and somehow found the strength to portray several extraordinary characters on screen. He, himself, was a marvel, and his role as T’Challa was especially legacy-building and cementing. It was larger than life. It was larger than him.
That is why T’Challa should not die, as Chadwick lives in the ancestral realm himself. That is why this character must not be done away with.
It was announced officially in December 2020 that Disney (and Marvel Studios) would not be recasting the role of T’Challa, King of Wakanda, in Black Panther 2. Instead, the movie will “explore the world of Wakanda and the rich characters introduced in the first film.” This decision was said to be made to honor the memory of the inimitable Chadwick Boseman.
It was a polarizing one. And as Black Panther 2 is done filming and slated to come out November 11, 2022, this is back on my mind.
Also, what brought this back up for me is that I just finished watching season 1 of the Marvel animated series “WHAT IF…?” (which had my jaw on the ground for the last 15 minutes of the last episode). Does this also mean he will not be recast for any other pieces of the franchise, including the animated ones? Because I wanna throw my hat in the ring for a STRONG “PLEASE RECAST T’CHALLA.” There is already a big #RecastTChalla Movement happening, led by Emmanuel Noisette. This is a major passion point for many.
There are so many reasons why they need to recast T’Challa.
T’Challa (not just Black Panther) is too important to be erased from the Universe.
T’Challa, in all his iterations is too significant for the MCU for him to be deleted, and it be logical. The character is integral, in and out of that suit. Yes, Black Panther can be anyone who assumes the power (like Shuri does, at some point in the comic books). And this goes beyond Black Panther 2, which I’m not sure how they will be explaining the absence of King T’Challa. I understand the decision to not include him in BP2, which had to be filmed soon after his death, but my hope is that T’Challa’s absence is temporary, and that he one day returns, depicted by another actor. The hole he will leave as a power mover in the multiverse, will be too big. Wakanda cannot lose its king. The Avengers can’t lose the Vibranium Victor. And Storm can’t lose her baby daddy (I really wanna see that movie, if they ever decide on what multiverse to focus on. That’s the one).
King T’Challa, Sovereign of Wakanda was a champion amongst warriors. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), T’Challa was extraordinary, even in the midst of the other superheroes. His intelligence, strategy, and access to vibranium made him exemplar. The King of Wakanda was also the wealthiest character in the Universe, besting even Tony Stark (Iron Man). Then he had the audacity to be a Black man, an African. Uncolonized. Unbossed. Unfuckwitable. T’Challa was King of Kings.
T’CHALLA WAS THE GOAT. To lose him is to lose such a keystone of the franchise and I AM NOT WITH IT.
Superheroes don’t die.
Superheros do not really die, even when they die. In comic books, they die and somehow manage to come back. Shoot, in the Avengers movie series, they all disappeared and turned into dust and by the end of the next movie, they’re all back. And again, these cineverses will reboot a story from another angle or multiverse to ensure that a character continues on.
Superheros don’t die, even if the actor who plays them is incapacitated, or passes away. They’re recast, for whatever reasons studios find. Their stories aren’t tied to the lives of the actors who first step into those roles.
Bruce Wayne (Batman). Clark Kent (Superman). Peter Parker (Spiderman). Captain America (Steve Rogers). We’ve seen them portrayed by countless actors. There have been like 3 Captain Americas, 7 Batmans, 9 Supermans. There will be more. The Joker has been recast twice since the late Heath Ledger’s incredible performance in “The Dark Knight.”
T’Challa should be recast, and this is not to reduce the iconic portrayal of Chadwick. This is to speak of the importance of the character. He made T’Challa into an icon and he will forever be credited with that. That icon, cannot be deleted.
T’Challa is necessary representation for the culture.
T’Challa, even beyond his physical capabilities when he dons the Black Panther suit, means so much to so many people. He means so much to Black people. We didn’t all turn out on February 2018 to the theaters in our finest garbs just because of a comic book movie we were excited about. We were pushed by the cultural significance and the representation of us leading a blockbuster comic canon film, and represented as a god amongst men. White kids have had Batman, Superman, Spiderman, Captain America and whatever other caped legging-ed flying invincible flying men to look to for decades on a big scale. Black kids first got Spawn (remember him?) but Black Panther was THE ONE for them. And now he’s gone. For me, that’s a heartbreaking loss.
They get COUNTLESS and we get ONE. And that ONE is gone.
People are theorizing that Black Panther 2 will probably have Shuri become Black Panther. That’s fine, as a technicality because in the comics, at one point, she steps into the role in T’Challa’s temporary absence. But let’s face it, that feels incomplete. No shade on Shuri (or Letitia Wright), as she’s brilliant herself, and one day I do think Shuri needs her own spinoff. But the comic book story evolution doesn’t fill the vacuum of T’Challa’s significant absence.
Black boys need to see the King of Wakanda. A superhero in their image, who commands respect, who rules a land that lacks for nothing and is threatened by nothing. A bridge builder who has immense physical power but leads heart first.
Black girls need T’Challa. A Black man who is proudly led, loved and protected by an army of strong Black women, while he, in turn, respects, reveres and cherishes them. For their brawn, beauty and overall badassery.
To tell them he is dead is a different type of hurt.
My heart hurt when I saw pics of Black kids as young as 5 years old mourning Black Panther’s death when Chadwick’s passing was announced. Throughout social media, parents posted images of their kids in grief and each one was agonizing because I felt that Black kids lost something else even beyond the character.
Everyone else gets to have their superheros, over and over again. Black kids got one. But superheros aren’t supposed to die. They are supposed to be larger than life, invincible, untouchable. But theirs might be done. Comic books are simply violent fairy tales (although fairy tales are also violent but that’s another piece for another day). Happily ever after means you never have to worry about them being really gone. They will always come back somehow, and the journey is about the HOW. But they’ve been told theirs left for good.
There is cultural significance to T’Challa that doesn’t exist for Bruce Wayne or Peter Parker. That is why instead of letting him die, we should keep him alive. For the culture. To let him die is to say even in fantasy, we can’t have fantasy. We can’t have happily ever after even in our own fairy tales. But everyone else can. I struggle with that.
Are the Black kids who sleep with their Black Panther action figure or begged to be him for Halloween getting the message that they can’t ever rest in joy, even in made up worlds? Cuz if their favorite mythical figure can die as if he’s just another human, then what can they hold on to? What does it mean that even in fabricated stories, they still must face irredeemable loss? Do we always lose even when we win? What happens to your spirit and your ability to have imagination when a character who is supposed to be somewhat immortal ACTUALLY PASSES ON? Why believe in the impossible?
Black Panther 2 might have been too close for them to even think about who could step into Chadwick’s unmatched shoes. That’s fair. So I truly hope there will be a Black Panther 3, with the triumphant return of King T’Challa, interpreted through another actor’s lens. And I hope to see T’Challa in other MCU shows and films.
There will never be another Chadwick Boseman, and his portrayal of the King of Wakanda was archetypal. However, it cannot end with him. Let King T’Challa live as we mourn Chadwick’s death and celebrate his life. We’ve already lost one king. We shouldn’t lose the other. And the point of LEGACY is to ensure that the work you start doesn’t just die with you. Let T’Challa live, Marvel. Recast T’Challa. It is time.
WAKANDA FOREVER. T’CHALLA FOREVER.