Last month, during Disney's massive Investor Day presentation, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige confirmed the upcoming sequel to Black Panther would not recast the role of T'Challa following the death of original star Chadwick Boseman. Instead, the film would focus more on the supporting cast of the original film and the wider world of Wakanda as a key location in the Marvel Universe.
The news confirmed something many fans had already suspected, that Marvel would not attempt to replace Boseman in the MCU after the Oscar-winning success of Black Panther, but it also raised another question: Even if Black Panther II is the end of T'Challa's story and the beginning of another story altogether for Wakanda, could there still be room for some version of T'Challa onscreen? Would Marvel attempt some kind of digital recreation of Boseman, if only to conclude his time in the universe?
According to Feige, the answer is no. Speaking to Deadline ahead of the release of the new Disney+ MCU series WandaVision, Feige confirmed — as producer Victoria Alonso already assured fans — that there are no plans to recreate Boseman's role, whether through recasting or through computer generated images. Instead, the film will "further explore" Wakanda beyond T'Challa himself, something writer-director Ryan Coogler had built into the story even before Boseman's passing.
"So much of the comics and that first movie is the world of Wakanda. Wakanda is a place to further explore with characters and different subcultures. This was always and initially the primary focus of the next story," Feige said. "We’re not going to have a CG Chadwick and we’re not recasting T’Challa. Ryan Coogler is working very hard right now on the script with all the respect and love and genius that he has, which gives us great solace, so it was always about furthering the mythology and the inspiration of Wakanda. There’s also the task of honoring and respecting the ongoing learnings and teachings from Chad as well."
Boseman's passing after a previously undisclosed battle with cancer rocked the entertainment world over the summer, as fans, friends, and collaborators alike mourned the loss of an icon who felt like he was just getting started as an actor and a bona fide movie star. It left a hole in many arenas, including the MCU, and Feige and Coogler have (wisely) taken the position that that's a hole that cannot be filled through some kind of recreation of the character he played.
So, what will take the place of T'Challa's story? Well, as many fans have already noted, there is comic book precedent for his sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) to step up and assume the mantle of Black Panther, and there's already precedent in the films for another character being granted the Panther's abilities and costume. Black Panther II has an opportunity to address this challenge head-on while also exploring the various tribal allegiances within Wakanda, as well as Wakanda's struggle to open itself up to the wider world.
Black Panther II is set to hit theaters July 8, 2022. Boseman's final performance as T'Challa will come as a voice actor in Marvel's upcoming What If...? series, set to hit Disney+ this summer.