The first Black Panther movie was one of the MCU's biggest successes, not just at the box office but also in terms of cultural impact. The untimely passing of lead actor Chadwick Boseman has thrown the future of the franchise into turmoil. Recently, Marvel showrunner Kevin Feige confirmed that Black Panther 2 will not see a new actor take on the role of King T'Challa, and neither will they be using a CGI version of Boseman.
"So much of the comics and that first movie is the world of Wakanda. Wakanda is a place to further explore with characters and different subcultures. This was always and initially the primary focus of the next story. We're not going to have a CG Chadwick and we're not recasting T'Challa. Ryan Coogler is working very hard right now on the script with all the respect and love and genius that he has, which gives us great solace, so it was always about furthering the mythology and the inspiration of Wakanda. There's also the task of honoring and respecting the ongoing learnings and teachings from Chad as well."
Before his death, Chadwick Boseman was set to play a major role in the next phase of the MCU, not just in his own movie but in team-up films as well. A hint in Avengers: Endgame about underwater earthquakes had indicated that Black Panther 2 might see the kingdom of Wakanda dealing with the threat of Namor the Sub-Mariner and his underwater kingdom. Now, that storyline will likely change significantly, based on Feige's comments, to properly address the loss of Boseman's T'Challa.
Since we will not be getting a new version of T'Challa, the question now is what will happen to the mantle of Black Panther. A popular theory is that T'Challa's sister Shuri will become the new protector of Wakanda, which has precedence in the comics. Letitia Wright, who plays Shuri, addressed that theory directly but stated that she has not yet come to terms with the passing of Boseman fully enough to consider returning to Black Panther without him.
"We're just still mourning Chad, so it's not something I even want to think about. The thought of doing it without him is kinda strange. We're just grieving at the moment, so it's trying to find the light in the midst of it."
Apart from Shuri, another popular candidate for the title of the new Black Panther would be M'Baku, played by Winston Duke. Although the character started out as T'Challa's rival, by the end of the first film, M'Baku had become an ally and a popular favorite amongst audiences. Considering that M'Baku missed out on the chance to become Black Panther by the barest margin the first time around, it would make sense for him to take up the mantle in the sequel as a way of honoring his fallen ally T'Challa.
Directed and written by Ryan Coogler, Black Panther 2 will arrive in theaters on July 8, 2022. This news arrives from Deadline.