During their investor event today, Disney announced a plethora of new projects and gave more details on franchises that are already being developed. One of those franchises is the insanely popular live-action adaptation of ‘Black Panther.’ Released in 2018, Black Panther shattered all expectations of what a big-budget superhero movie is supposed to look like and feel like, breaking cinema records along the way. Lead by an almost entirely black cast and crew, Black Panther told an amazing and inspiring story, set against a gorgeous African backdrop. Despite all that, Disney announced they will not recast the role of T’Challa in Black Panther 2.
The biggest standout in the franchise was the powerful portrayal of the main protagonist T’Challa by then rising Hollywood star Chadwick Boseman. Boseman’s T’Challa debuted in Captain America: Civil War and played the role like a man on fire. He had a regal poise about him, and a fiery passion that translated easily through his dialogue. It was fairly simple to forget that he wasn’t ACTUALLY a king, but he damn sure carried himself like one on-screen.
For many black people, the role of T’Challa was a wildly important one. It was the first time we’ve been able to see a character appear on-screen alongside his white counterparts and NOT feel like a sidekick. No, the newly-crowned King of Wakanda held his own. He had the same strength and fighting prowess as Captain America, and more money than Tony Stark. Yes, he belonged. But beyond that, the character of T’Challa was one that showed black boys that heroes can look like them. They could be the main character in stories that don’t portray them or anybody that looks like them in a negative light. Even the nuanced character of Killmonger had sympathetic qualities recognized by T’Challa near the end of the film.
Personally, I am both saddened and disappointed to hear that the character of T’Challa won’t be recast for the upcoming sequel to Black Panther. While it is very exciting to see Letitia Wright (Shuri) step into a larger role, and potentially take up the mantle of Black Panther, part of me would also like to see T’Challa’s story get told to completion. A role that is that important, and impacted as many lives as it has, deserves a proper send-off and I can’t see that happening within the sequel. So the option becomes a rushed on-screen death for a character portrayed by a man who meant so much to so many people off-screen.