Marvel Discussed Making Other Characters the New Black Panther in Wakanda Forever

It's been revealed that there were internal discussions at Marvel about having other characters from the Black Panther franchise inherit the mantle of Black Panther in the sequel film, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. In a new interview, Black Panther 2 screenwriter Joe Robert Cole reveals a lot more insight into the creative process behind making the film and all the creative changes that came with the tragic loss of T'Challa actor Chadwick Boseman. Of course, one of the biggest changes was Marvel Studios having to find a new character to wear the Black Panther suit – and apparently, the decision wasn't always so straightforward. 

(WARNING – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever SPOILERS Follow!) 

Ultimately, it is Princess Shuri (Letitia Wright) who becomes the next Black Panther, just as she did in the comics at a time when T'Challa was thought dead. Indeed, much of Wakanda Forever's story centers around Shuri's process of grieving and growth to become a new Black Panther. However, as Joe Robert Cole tells it, getting that story to flow took some big decision-making – starting with whether or not to make Wright's Shuri the focus of the narrative. When the interviewer mentions fan-wish theories like Winston Duke's M'Baku becoming the next Black Panther, it's revealed that it was, at one point, on the table! 

M'Baku And Nakia Were Considered As The Next Black Panther

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(Photo: Marvel Entertainment)

"We would kick around the ideas, and try to extrapolate where the story goes and what's the most impactful choice – what's the best journey?" Cole explained to Rolling Stone. "And where do you go after the film in terms of those characters? M'Baku certainly was someone that got kicked around a little bit. I think you're correct because in the comics, Shuri is Black Panther and there's a natural organicness, I guess is the best way to say it, to her becoming Panther. But you kick the tires on all sorts of ideas. And you just want to make the best decision and do what's best for the story."

When a follow-up question brought up the idea of Lupita Nyong'o's character Nakia becoming the next Black Panther, Cole added that the idea "got kicked around! Her name got kicked around for sure." 

Why Did Marvel Not Recast T'Challa? 

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(Photo: Marvel Studios)

The debate about what to do about the Black Panther character has never stopped, ever since news of Chadwick Boseman's death broke in August of 2020. There has always been an overarching debate over whether or not to recast the T'Challa as a way to carry the character and his cultural legacy forward; Cole makes it clear that Marvel went with the decision to reflect reality and let T'Challa pass away with Boseman, and never looked back on it. 

According to not Cole, not even a CGI replacement was ever considered: "I don't remember any conversations about that. No. I don't think we were ever... I don't think anyone felt that would be appropriate."

It is made clear that the young character of Prince T'Challa (who is revealed in the post-credits scene) was going to be a bigger part of the story when Chadwick Boseman was a life, echoing the same ideas of succession we ultimately got. 

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Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is now in theaters.