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Why ‘Black Panther’ should be recast

The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the opinion of Byte or Byte’s editorial board. 

On August 28, 2020, Chadwick Boseman tragically died from colon cancer, which he had been struggling with without letting it be known publicly. From starring in films like 42, Marshall, Get On Up, and 21 Bridges, Boseman brought to life many exemplary characters through incredible performances. However, arguably his most significant role is Black Panther, a character and film that have both become culturally iconic. After his death, Marvel remained silent with their plans on how they were going to move forward with the sequel and character until the Disney investors’ meeting in December 2020. During the Marvel Studios presentation, Marvel President Kevin Feige revealed that they weren’t going to recast the role, nor use CGI to bring the character back. Instead, the Black Panther sequel will be focusing on the other characters from the first film, and further develop the world of Wakanda. While it’s understandable that Marvel wants to respect Boseman as much as they can, not recasting the role is a major mistake.

Cultural significance

As mentioned before, Black Panther has left its mark on our culture. Although he wasn’t the first black superhero to have a standalone film, his was the most successful one. In its full theatrical run, the film made over one billion dollars, becoming the 12th highest-grossing film of all time. One of the best aspects of the film was how it diverged from common stereotypes. In most films revolving around Africa, they portray it as a savage land that’s filled with horrors. Wakanda flips this stereotype on its head by showing the highly advanced land that’s vibrant and colorful, all the while still incorporating African culture into the mix. While this can still be achieved without T’Challa, the perspective through which we experience this world will be lost.

A fresh, new superhero

After 18 films, Marvel introduced a different type of character than we’d ever seen before. Although having a king of a mystical land as a superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe wasn’t new thanks to Thor, the perspective to the duty of royalty was new to T’Challa. His journey of becoming king of Wakanda and having to handle all the casualties that follow it made his character unique. He tried juggling many responsibilities and stumbled along the way. He’s also challenged in many ways that force him to stand up and do what’s right. This character became important for so many people, giving them a new superhero to be inspired by.

Image from The Saxon

Along with this, T’Challa is one of the best characters within the Marvel Universe and had many future possibilities as to where to take his story. While Marvel hasn’t announced if they’re going to write T’Challa out of the story or kill him off, letting him go without a proper conclusion feels wrong. While there are probably many people who agree with Marvel’s decision and want to honor Boseman’s legacy by not carrying on Black Panther, I see it differently. It feels like the opposite and is a dishonor to him and his portrayal of T’Challa by not carrying on the legacy he created. By bringing in a new actor to replace Boseman, Marvel would be finishing what Boseman started and continuing to inspire people with the character. Sure, they can pass the baton of Black Panther to a character like Shuri or M’Baku, but Black Panther 2 will probably feel strange if they simply wrote T’Challa out of it. The ending of the first film teases much more to come from him, so leaving all this behind would be disheartening to those who became invested in the character.

World of Wakanda

Image from Barnes & Noble

This might sound weird, but exploring the world of Wakanda in the sequel sounds like a bad idea, considering a similar type of series was just announced. Adding to their already stuffed plate of Marvel shows to come, Disney just announced another show in the works, a series focusing strictly on Wakanda and being developed by Ryan Coogler, writer and director of Black Panther. Having the sequel and a new series exploring Wakanda sounds redundant and runs the risk of diluting the specialty of the world. Although Wakanda is vast, rich, and filled with endless possibilities, it’s not very exciting to hear that Disney is trying to milk the property for all its worth. 

Sources: BBCBox Office MojoDeadlineMarvelThe New York Times,  VarietyVox

Images: Barnes & NobleThe Saxon

Featured Image: Quartz

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