Black Panther's ending was certainly amongst the most celebrated of 2018. After Killmonger died watching the sun set on Wakanda (which he said he would never let happen), T'Challa took his rival's words to heart, and began reaching out to help the rest of the world. The ending brought everything full circle, but as it turns out, that wasn't the original ending Ryan Coogler shot.
During an interview with Cinemablend, Black Panther editor Michael Shawver revealed that Killmonger's final line was different, and that it caused problems for T'Challa's story. So Coogler cut the line and added an extra scene in reshoots, changing the film's ending for the better.
"With reshoots Ryan wanted to do a new ending, and it's a whole bigger thing with the scene where Killmonger dies." Shawver began. "What we shot originally, and in the script, was Killmonger saying 'It's beautiful, but what are you going to do for everybody in the world who can't see this?' And it was great. It was powerful, it was awesome, but it was problematic for a few reasons. One, we realized that just as a character, for the journey of T'Challa, he can't get the answer to the movie and what he needs to do from the villain - like straight-up exactly what he needs. And that's kind of what was happening. Secondly, it was a great performance, and [Michael B. Jordan] brought it, and it was painful to watch because you kind of don't want this guy to die, but it didn't fit his character."
The scene in question is the very last one in the movie before the credits roll, when T'Challa takes Shuri to Oakland, and reveals that he's turning Killmonger's childhood home into an outreach and learning center.
"Ryan went off in his lab and did his brilliant work that he does as a writer, and wrote the final scene in Oakland where he goes with Shuri and shows the Royal Talon fighter to those kids, and specifically a kid that kinda looks like a young Killmonger," Shawver continued. "Basically, him showing them that, and buying those buildings, and the Wakandan Outreach Program was in spirit what originally we had Killmonger tell him. 'If people can just see this. If people can see their own potential then things would be different.' And so that was done in a new scene where we see what T'Challa has done. And then at the very, very, very end, the last line is that kid looking at him and saying, 'Who are you?' And that is the theme of the movie, of identity. Who are you? And he doesn't need to answer it, because he just answered it for us."
In order to find the right ending, Coogler and his team studied what are considered to be the best movie endings of all time. Films like The Godfather really helped influence the direction of Black Panther's ending.
"One thing that we did was looking at all those Top 10 lists of best endings ever for movies, and we found in a lot of these videos it was one of two things: it was either the twist ending, or it was The Godfather," said Shawver. "Basically, the first time you meet Michael, he's with Kay and he's telling her he's not like his family. 'That's not me, Kay. That's them.' The last scene we see him, he's telling Kay he's not like his family... But then he walks and the door shuts, and you know everything is different. But it's the same conversation! And so it's the circular nature why those kinds of endings feel like closure even though it's open-ended."
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