Marvel Studios and director Ryan Coogler have to face some tricky decisions when making Black Panther 2. In the wake of Chadwick Boseman’s death, T’Challa was almost universally considered the defining role of his career and they’ll need to address his absence in the movie somehow, but the exact method of how they’ll go about doing that remains a mystery.
All the information we’ve seen indicates that they’re not recasting the role and the plot will be about the Black Panther mantle being taken up by his younger sister Shuri, as played by Letitia Wright. Still, that doesn’t mean Boseman won’t be in the pic. Last month, we heard whispers that Marvel was considering recreating the actor with CGI and now, gossip hound Grace Randolph has backed up that story, saying the following:
I hear that they are making a #ChadwickBoseman digital double that's looking very life like…
— Grace Randolph (@GraceRandolph) November 5, 2020
If this is the plan, then the producers and creative team have to know they’re walking into a potential minefield. If their CGI Boseman plunges into the uncanny valley, then the film could get a bad reputation very fast. Disney doesn’t have great form with this tech, either, with their CGI Peter Cushing in Rogue One and Leia in The Rise of Skywalker both being fairly unconvincing. For my money, the best posthumous performance to date has been Paul Walker in Furious 7, though the VFX crew on that movie were helped out by having the actor’s brothers stand in for him on set.
If they do decide to go this route, let’s hope they don’t overuse the CGI double. First, putting words in Boseman’s mouth without his consent is slightly creepy and secondly, if his screen time is limited, they can really finesse the shots he’s in. In any case, it’s now looking like Black Panther 2 will be about Shuri figuring out how to live up to her legendary older brother’s legacy, so fingers crossed that the focus of the story remains on her.