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Black Panther II remains a very mysterious film even by Marvel Studios standards, simply because it's a film that had to drastically change its focus in the middle of preparations due to a tragedy. The death of star Chadwick Boseman left the entertainment world reeling, and after mourning the loss of his collaborator and friend, director Ryan Coogler had to being the process of imagining what a Black Panther movie would look like without his Black Panther.
That means a new direction for the future of the franchise, but today we know at least one more thing about the sequel: We can get ready for more Martin Freeman.
In an interview with Collider to promote the new season of his TV series Breeders, Freeman confirmed that he will still be reprising his role as CIA Agent and Wakandan ally Everett K. Ross in the Black Panther sequel, and noted he'll be "speaking to Ryan Coogler soon" about what his work will look like this time around. He also confirmed that, just like everyone else, he's still not sure what a Black Panther movie without Chadwick Boseman can be.
"Just before Chadwick died, if my memory serves correctly, the script had gone in," Freeman said. "They had the script and they were working on the script, and then Chadwick died, and [I] sort of immediately thought, 'Oh, okay, I could see a world where there's no Black Panther then, because how can you do a Black Panther without Black Panther?' So, I still don't know what that's going to look like. And no, obviously, before Chad died, the idea of doing it without him would have been a stupid idea. It would have been crazy. It was very shocking, and still is very, very strange, that he is not here. So, I'm as curious as you are to see what that will look like and I find out quite soon. All I know is that I'm in it."
Black Panther II is expected to begin shooting later this year for a summer 2022 release, and while we don't know much beyond that, we also know that Coogler and producer/MCU mastermind Kevin Feige have repeatedly confirmed their decision to both not recast Boseman and avoid digital recreations of his character, King T'Challa.
That means the film — and the upcoming Disney+ series Coogler is developing set in Wakanda — will focus more on the supporting cast and Wakanda's larger place in a post-Endgame world. Given that Everett Ross is both a friend to Wakanda and someone plugged in deeply to the intelligence community, it makes sense to have him around at least a little bit to help fill viewers and other characters in on what Wakanda's relationship to the rest of the MCU looks like now.
Black Panther II hits theaters July 8, 2022.