Chadwick Boseman died very unexpectedly last week at the age of 43. The actor, best known for his role as T'Challa in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, had been battling colon cancer, very privately. Boseman had been set to reprise the role once more in Black Panther 2, which was expected to shoot sometime next year. However, even with the big question mark hanging over in regards to what to do with the franchise, Disney is not focused on the sequel at this time. Rather, they are focused on honoring Boseman.
According to a new report, Disney is said to be primarily focussed on processing grief and paying tribute to Chadwick Boseman. Recently, ABC, which is owned by Disney, showed Black Panther commercial-free and aired a 40-minute tribute to the actor afterward. It seems these are the sort of things the company is focused on for the time being and not figuring out how best to proceed with Black Panther 2, even though that bridge will need to be crossed at some point.
The report also dives into just how private Chadwick Boseman's battle with cancer was. Nobody at Marvel Studios knew. Not even Kevin Feige, who runs the whole operation. Director Ryan Coogler recently penned a loving remembrance of Boseman, in which, he revealed that the actor's battle was a mystery to him as well. Only a handful in Boseman's very close circle were aware. Boseman, it is said, was certain he was going to beat cancer and be able to return for Black Panther 2. Tragically, that is not the reality we are living in.
While there remains no official word on what the studio intends to do, Black Panther made $1.3 billion at the global box office, was a massive critical hit and was the first superhero movie to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. Moreover, its cultural impact and importance cannot be overstated. With that, Black Panther 2, in some form, will need to proceed at some point. It is generally agreed that the studio has two options. One, recast the role. That, however, seems highly unlikely, as it could be viewed as dishonoring Chadwick Boseman's legacy. It also seems doubtful any actor would want to try and fill those shoes. Second, have someone else within the franchise take up the mantle of Black Panther. Letitia Wright, who plays T'Challa's sister Shuri, seems like a solid option. And there is precedent in the world of Marvel Comics for such a move.
Other franchises in recent years have had to proceed following a terrible loss. Carrie Fisher passed away shortly after filming Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Paul Walker died in a car crash before finishing Furious 7. Heath Ledger after filming The Dark Knight. Brandon Lee on the set of The Crow. All of these franchises, eventually, found a path forward. But now is not the time to think about making a movie. Now is a time for mourning the loss of a true hero. This news comes to us via The Hollywood Reporter.