When Chadwick Boseman passed away in 2020, many fans were shocked and heartbroken, including the cast and crew of Black Panther. The Marvel franchise was gearing up to begin production on the highly-anticipated sequel when it unexpectedly lost its lead.
Now, mere months away from the release of highly anticipated sequel Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige explained in a new interview why he and director Ryan Coogler decided not to recast the role with a different actor.
“It just felt like it was much too soon to recast,” Feige told Empire. “Stan Lee always said that Marvel represents the world outside your window. And we had talked about how, as extraordinary and fantastical as our characters and stories are, there’s a relatable and human element to everything we do. The world is still processing the loss of Chad. And Ryan poured that into the story.”
As the San Diego Comic-Con trailer for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever made clear, the film is reckoning head-on with Boseman’s death and T’Challa’s absence. Supporting characters from the first film like T’Challa’s sister Shuri (Letitia Wright), bodyguard Okoye (Danai Gurira), and lover Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) will take center stage this time around, as Wakanda has to meet a challenge from Atlantis and its king, Namor (Tenoch Huerta).
“The conversations were entirely about, yes, ‘What do we do next?'” Feige said to Empire. “And how could the legacy of Chadwick – and what he had done to help Wakanda and the Black Panther become these incredible, aspirational, iconic ideas – continue? That’s what it was all about.”
The trailer ended with a teasing glimpse of a hand unsheathing claws. So will any of those aforementioned characters follow in T’Challa’s footsteps as the new Black Panther, hero of Wakanda? Shuri became Black Panther for a time in Marvel comics, but the characters have also changed significantly from their source material, so anything is possible.
Read the full Feige interview at Empire. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is set to hit theaters on Nov. 11. Watch EW’s Comic-Con interview with the cast above.