Earlier this week, Disney decimated the competition with the reveal of their 2021 content season and beyond. Star Wars fans alone will be gorging on content for years. They’ll be barfing it up like Grogu (Baby Yoda) barfs up blue macaroons.
In the MCU, the abundance of content will give the Marvel fan the same sense of satiation. Loki, What If, Shang-Chi, Eternals, Falcon and the Winter Soldier, WandaVision, Black Widow, this list goes on and on…
But there was one announcement that divided fandom, specifically Black comic fandom:
Black Panther 2, to be released in 2022, will not feature T’Challa, but rather focus on the country of Wakanda itself and other characters from the first film. This announcement was made because Chadwick Boseman, the superlative actor who brought T’Challa to life, passed away unexpectedly a mere two months ago.
Of course, the obvious go-to would be Shuri taking over the mantle of the Black Panther from her brother. The comic books themselves have shown Shuri as a Black Panther. However, some people (Black men if we’re being completely honest here) are up in arms with claims of Black man emasculation because the MCU will not recast the role of T’Challa nor use CGI to continue Brother Chadwick’s visage, if not performance, in this next film.
Ok. My two cents:
Yes, major characters like the DC Trinity have had multiple people play the various characters. However, there was always a sufficient amount of time between the “changing of the guard” so to speak. Examples include:
Superman: from George Reeves in the 50s to Christopher Reeve in the 70s to Dean Cain in the 90s, etc.
Batman: from Adam West in the 60s to Michael Keaton in ’89 to Christian Bale in ’05, etc.
Wonder Woman: from Lynda Carter in the 70s to Gal Gadot in 2018…
Point being, there were decades in between new actors taking on these roles for new generations.
Now T’Challa, specifically Chadwick Boseman’s performance, has elevated the role of Black Panther to that same mythic status. He made the role his. His performance is forever iconic. And, let’s keep it a buck, no matter who will eventually become the next T’Challa will be scrutinized and compared to Brother Chadwick’s performance… especially for BP2.
In other words: it’s too soon.
Of course people are gonna compare actors who took on the role like the late Sean Connery’s James Bond vs. Daniel Craig’s interpretation of the character. That’s natural.
But again, we’re dealing with generational comparisons. Brother Chadwick passed, what, two months ago?
It is simply too soon.
In addition, though T’Challa opened up Wakanda to the rest of the world doesn’t mean the next film will focus on that. Keep in mind, the MCU is now five years ahead of “regular” time thanks to Avengers: Endgame. It is possible to do a “back in time” BP movie without Chadwick to learn more about the nation and the mantle of the Black Panther (think the third Underworld film Rise of the Lycans) and then go forward in the third movie with a new T’Challa.
The thing is, some folks think T’Challa and Chadwick are the same person, which is not true. Besides, the MCU isn’t dumb enough to kill off a character because an actor passed. T’Challa is making them a lot of money. But I think they are sensitive enough to mourn. And, keep in mind, the whole cast and crew of BP (who are mostly returning) are still in mourning as well. They became a family on set and they are probably not ready to replace their champion.
This is actually a smart move, emotionally, to have BP2 focus more on Wakanda. Maybe the movie would be about other Black Panthers throughout Wakanda’s history. Maybe it’s about young T’Chaka. In any event, BP2 would act as a bridge for the next actor to fill Chadwick’s shoes in the role of T’Challa…
And I would love to see a flick about those who wore the habit of the Panther before the current King of Wakanda.
Of course, this is all speculative. None of us own the character and The Mouse will do what The Mouse does. We’re just gonna have to wait, see, and consume (or not) what they give us.
I yield the rest of my time to the floor…