Black Panther Star Thought Marvel Might Not Make Sequel Without Chadwick Boseman

Martin Freeman thought Marvel might not make a Black Panther 2 after the death of Chadwick Boseman. Freeman, who played CIA operative Everett Ross in Captain America: Civil War and Black Panther, returns to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The recently-wrapped Marvel Studios sequel did not recast Wakandan King T'Challa, the role portrayed by Boseman until his death from colon cancer at age 43 in August 2020. The sequel from returning writer and director Ryan Coogler will instead focus on the kingdom of Wakanda, and the ensemble of Shuri (Letitia Wright), Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o), Okoye (Danai Gurira), and M'Baku (Winston Duke). 

"It was strange, that side of it. On the one hand, you're making the film that you're there to make, and there are scores and scores of people on set, joined in this endeavor to make the film. But there's also no question that, at the heart of it, there's quite a gap now, and you felt it," Freeman told Collider of returning for Black Panther 2 without Boseman. "With full respect to Ryan Coogler and everybody else, who's sweating and bleeding to get this thing done properly, it was fun. It was enjoyable. I was in and out of it quite quickly, I think. But I like playing Everett Ross. He's a very fun character to play. He's nicely simpatico for the story. He's a good guy. But it was odd." 

Freeman and Boseman entered the MCU together in 2016's Civil War, reuniting for 2018's Black Panther. On doing the sequel without its original leading man, Freeman said, "Of course, it was odd with Chadwick not being there. There's no way around that. I think everyone would find it pretty strange and sad, but at the same time, life things don't just end. It's not like, 'Well, that's that's happened, so we just all have to go off and never do it again.' But it was odd."

"When he passed, I thought, 'Okay, well maybe there just won't be another one.' But there are still other stories to tell within that world and other great characters," Freeman continued. "I think, and I hope that we've made a good film. I trust Ryan Coogler a lot."

Marvel Studios president and producer Kevin Feige confirmed in December 2020 that Marvel would not recast Boseman's T'Challa, with Disney announcing the sequel would "explore the world of Wakanda and the rich characters introduced in the first film." Victoria Alonso, Marvel Studios' President of Physical, Post Production, VFX and Animation, ruled out using CGI to recreate the late Boseman's likeness

After Boseman's private illness and death, Coogler had talks with Marvel that "essentially came down to continuing the legacy of Wakanda and continuing with that storyline in a very meaningful, respectful, and yet still hopeful and fun and exciting way, which was difficult after losing Chad," Feige later told Rotten Tomatoes, adding of the Black Panther sequel without Boseman: "It will be extremely emotional across the board, but I think they have something very special in mind."

At the Met Gala 2022, Boseman and Freeman's co-star, Danai Gurira, told Variety that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is "all about" Boseman. "It's all an outpouring to love and honor him." 

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is scheduled to release in theaters on November 11.