How will Marvel Studios' Black Panther sequel handle the unfortunate passing of star Chadwick Boseman? Well, for one thing, we can rule out a digital body double for King T'Challa. Recently speaking with the Argentine newspaper Clarín, MCU producer Victoria Alonso shot down speculation that the next Wakanda-based feature would bring back Boseman's character with CGI trickery.
"No. There's only one Chadwick, and he's no longer with us. Sadly, our king has died in real life, not only in fiction, and we're taking a little time to see how we continue the story and how to honor this chapter of what has unexpectedly happened to us, so painful and terrible to be honest," she said. "Chadwick wasn't only a wonderful human being, every day of the 5 years we spent together, but also, I believe, that what he did as a character elevated us as a company, and has left his moment on history."
Ryan Coogler is returning to write and direct Black Panther II, which may see T'Challa's younger sister, Shuri (played by Letitia Wright), take up the mantle of Wakanda's protector like she does in the comics. Some fans have also theorized that it's very likely that Namor the Sub-Mariner (Marvel's version of Aquaman, although Namor came first) will make an appearance due to the fact that the kingdoms of Atlantis and Wakanda have often clashed in the comics. Of course, all of this is conjecture right now, as Marvel and Disney mourn the loss of Boseman and figure out a way forward without him.
"I know that sometimes in productions, 2 or 3 months goes by and we say that too much time has passed. But it's not too much time. We have to really think about what we're going to do next and how. And decide how we're going to honor the franchise," Alonso added.
Boseman passed away at the age of 43 in late August after a secret, four-year battle with colon cancer. The actor (whose career burned short but incredibly bright) was memorialized by actors, producers, directors, writers, influencers, presidents, and other dignitaries the world over.
"I haven’t grieved a loss this acute before," Coogler wrote in a statement at the time. "I spent the last year preparing, imagining and writing words for him to say, that we weren’t destined to see. It leaves me broken knowing that I won’t be able to watch another close-up of him in the monitor again or walk up to him and ask for another take."
Black Panther II is currently headed for a theatrical bow on May 6, 2022. While it was one of the few MCU projects unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of release date, Boseman's passing could lead to an eventual postponement as the studio reconfigures the script and trajectory of Wakanda's involvement in the onscreen mythos.