Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2023) blasted onto the screen last November. After years of waiting, fans were desperate to see how the Marvel Cinematic Universe would handle the tragic passing of its leading man, Chadwick Boseman. The legacy left behind by Boseman meant his character, the Black Panther T’Challa, had to be handled with care as Marvel approached the sequel to Coogler’s first movie.
And after years of contention, the decision not to recast King T’Challa with a new actor was buoyed by the arrival of a new character, and one carrying the same name.
The sequel to Coogler’s billion-dollar movie, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, opened exclusively in movie theaters in November 2022 as the final theatrical installment and acting conclusion of Marvel Phase Four. The MCU movie saw the return of Letitia Wright, Danai Gurira, Angela Bassett, and Lupita Nyong’o as Shuri, Okoye, Queen Ramonda, and Nakia, respectively. Bassett has received universal acclaim for her role as Ramonda, winning a Golden Globe award and being nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the 95th Academy Awards.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever focused on the passing of King T’Challa, with the fictional Marvel Universe reflecting the real-life death of Chadwick Boseman, who died in 2020 from colon cancer. From there, the film offered an exploration of grief and loyalty as Wright’s Shuri struggled to come to terms with losing her brother and becoming the Black Panther of Wakanda in his stead.
While some fans accepted that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever would celebrate Boseman’s legacy, others thought Kevin Feige’s Marvel Cinematic Universe was doing a disservice to T’Challa, one of the most recognizable Black superheroes in pop culture. Producer Nate Moore aimed to simmer the tension by suggesting that the Black Panther is a mantle; this drove their decision not to recast the character for the sequel. But, as loyal fans pointed out, T’Challa is the most prominent Black Panther in Marvel Comics. and, in their opinion, should not have been written out of one of the world’s biggest franchises.
So as the months trundled towards Black Panther: Wakanda Forever‘s release, boycotts were launched, and outcry reached fever pitch after trailers and promotional materials were released. The first trailer reignited the #RecastTChalla trend, while others declared boycotts over “the biggest attack in MCU history” — the removal of T’Challa by death from the MCU.
Related: Marvel Confirms the Last Ever Black Panther Amid Recasting Scrutiny
But, if audiences stayed around for the post-credits scene, they would have seen that Marvel may not be done with T’Challa just yet. The scene opens with Shuri (Wright) visiting Nakia (Nyong’o), where the latter reveals that she and T’Challa had a son, Toussaint (Divine Love Konadu-Sun) — otherwise known as Prince T’Challa of Wakanda.
It is interesting that, in Marvel Comics, where the MCU finds its inspiration, T’Challa has a son with Ororo Munroe, except here he is called Azari. This may be a way for Feige’s MCU to bring a version of T’Challa back into the mainstream franchise, satiating the backlash that the live-action movies had eradicated the T’Challa character altogether.
Now, Boseman’s T’Challa replacement, Divine Love Konadu-Sun, has broken his silence on what it meant to join the MCU. Speaking to POC Culture, the young Wakanda Forever star said (via The Direct):
“It’s definitely very exciting. It was wonderful. It was a dream come true because I’ve been wanting to do it for so long, and also it was amazing because I finally got to see myself on the big screen, and I’ve wanted to do that since I saw Black Panther.”
According to early scripts, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was likely to have followed Boseman’s T’Challa and his son, navigating the legacy of their homeland and the throne on which they are both intrinsically connected.
Related: ‘Black Panther’ Writer Slams Marvel Studios: “I Just Don’t Love It”
Fans can now catch Black Panther: Wakanda Forever on Disney+. The Marvel film also stars Martin Freeman as Everett K Ross, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss as Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, Winston Duke as M’Baku, Florence Kasumba as Ayo, Tenoch Huerta as Namor, and Dominique Thorne as Riri Williams AKA Ironheart.
As the MCU hurtles towards the beginning of Marvel Phase Five with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023), the direction of this new chapter and future Phase Six will be interesting to watch.
Do you think Prince T’Challa will return to the MCU? Let us know in the comments down below!