Wesley Snipes had tried to get a Black Panther movie off the ground in the 1990s, and even purchased the big screen rights to the character to try and bring the project to life. The action star ultimately walked away though and settled on Blade instead, and it would be well over a decade before T’Challa was finally realized in live-action.
Chadwick Boseman was first announced as the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Black Panther in October 2014, and when he made his debut in Captain America: Civil War eighteen months later, it was obvious that the studio had made the correct choice. Like any major piece of casting in a blockbuster franchise, countless names were said to be under consideration for the role, but Boseman was the standout candidate.
The actor’s recent death has plunged the industry into a state of shock, and Black Panther casting director Sarah Halley Finn paid tribute to her leading man by admitting that she and her crew knew immediately that they were looking at the only person who could do justice to the role of T’Challa from his very first audition.
“In different projects at Marvel, we’ve had very extensive searches where we’ll see literally thousands of people for a role. But when it came to casting Black Panther, it was unanimous. We all were in absolute agreement immediately that he was the person to play this part. My team at Marvel had seen his body of work and knew his ability to channel this kind of dignity, this grace, this elegance, this regalness with humility and humor and intelligence.”
The casting throughout Black Panther is pitch perfect right down to the smallest supporting parts, and Boseman anchored the entire movie with a performance that made you believe that he had the presence to rule a whole nation and moonlight as a superhero at the same time without even breaking a sweat. Chadwick Boseman may no longer be with us after his tragic passing at the age of just 43, but Black Panther will always endure as a monument to his talent that defied the conventions of the comic book genre to capture the zeitgeist, dominate the cultural conversation and inspire generations.