The world is still mourning the tragic and shocking death of Chadwick Boseman following a four-year battle against colon cancer that he kept out of the public eye, but eventually, difficult questions are going to start being asked about what the future holds for the Black Panther franchise.
Ryan Coogler’s follow-up to his Best Picture-nominated original was one of the most highly-anticipated projects on Marvel Studios’ upcoming slate, and with a May 2022 release date having been announced last summer, pre-production would have been in full swing with an eye to starting shooting in the early part of next year.
Boseman’s untimely passing will force Marvel to hit the pause button, and while there’s no chance that they’ll even consider recasting the role of T’Challa, Black Panther II now faces the even more challenging task of both honoring the memory of the title hero while also delivering a sequel that lives up to the standard set by one of the most culturally important blockbusters in recent history.
These are all issues that will be dealt with in due time, but the one and only consolation for Boseman’s fans is that the actor’s final MCU appearance had already been recorded prior to his death, with T’Challa set to play a prominent role in an episode of Disney Plus animated series Marvel’s What If…?
The show mirrors the famous comic book run that imagines alternate universes and realities in the Marvel timeline, and concept art revealed last year shows T’Challa becoming the Guardians of the Galaxy’s Star-Lord. According to trusted insider DanielRPK, Boseman’s performance was already completed before his death, meaning it’ll be the last time he features in the MCU.
I hear Chadwick already recorded his lines for What If. So this will truly be the last time we'll see/hear his T'Challa ?
— Daniel Richtman #BlackLivesMatter (@DanielRPK) August 31, 2020
The episode will be released in full when What If…? debuts in mid-2021, and it may even be re-framed to pay tribute to one of the MCU’s most popular and prominent figures. Even if it isn’t, though, it’ll no doubt be a hugely emotional watch and one that will be very special for fans.