2018's Black Panther was a culture-defining movie in a lot of ways. The explosive popularity of the feature fuelled a lot of expectations regarding its upcoming sequel. But all the excitement turned into dismay at the untimely passing of lead actor Chadwick Boseman last year. Ryan Coogler, who directed Black Panther, and is returning to helm Black Panther 2, recently spoke about the difficulty of continuing the franchise without Boseman.
"You know, I'm currently going through [writing and planning the sequel script]. One thing that I've learned in my short or long time on this Earth, however, you want to look at it, it's difficult to have perspective on something while you're going through it. This is one of the more profound things that I've ever gone through in my life, having to be a part of keeping this project going without this particular person. Who was like the glue that held it together."
Boseman was the first person attached to the Black Panther movie in the MCU, predating even Coogler's hiring. Boseman had already appeared in Captain America: Civil War as King T'Challa aka Black Panther before getting his own solo movie. Although Ryan Coogler had not selected Chadwick Boseman for the role, the filmmaker has often spoken about how thankful he was to have collaborated with the late actor, and how much of a hand Boseman had in shepherding Black Panther through the production process.
Following the passing of Boseman, MCU fans were wondering how the Black Panther movies would continue without him. Kevin Feige has gone on record confirming that the role of T'Challa will not be recast. According to Coogler, he is still finding it difficult to find an emotional balance when it comes to starting work on Black Panther 2, making it the hardest job of his career.
"You have a personal life, you have a professional life, you got a private life. When you work in something that you love, those things blend, they come together right? Your life kind of becomes your work for the better part of it. So, I'm trying to find a work-life balance, so I'm working on building two things that can stand on their own. I'm not there yet. But, this is without question, the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my professional life."
When last we saw T'Challa, he was a part of the final stand against Thanos in Avengers: Endgame. From previous hints, it is being theorized that Black Panther 2 was meant to introduce Namor the Sub-Mariner, setting up an epic conflict between the nations of Wakanda and Atlantis.
Now, the entire story for the sequel will doubtless have to be overhauled completely to address the issue of the missing T'Challa, and deciding what will happen to the mantle of the Black Panther in the absence of the King of Wakanda. Directed by Ryan Coogler, Black Panther 2 arrives in theaters on July 8, 2022.