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Disney isn’t sure how to make ‘Black Panther 2’ without Chadwick Boseman

Published Sep 4th, 2020 10:11PM EDT
Marvel Movies
Image: YouTube

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  • Marvel fans were shocked last Friday to learn that Chadwick Boseman died after fighting colon cancer for four years.
  • Few people were aware of the actor’s condition, even though he shot some of his most iconic movies during this time, including Black Panther and two Avengers film.
  • The actor was convinced he would get better and would star in the Black Panther sequel that should start shooting in March.
  • Disney has limited options on how to proceed with the development of Black Panther 2, and Boseman’s untimely death will impact other MCU crossovers.

As he was filming some of the most important movies of his career, Chadwick Boseman was secretly battling colon cancer, the world found out a few days ago. Sadly, we all learned the news in the saddest possible way last week, as the Black Panther and 42 star passed away after four years of fighting the disease.

A report says that Marvel’s boss Kevin Feige found out about Boseman’s condition on the same day he passed away, as the actor had not shared details about his diagnosis with many people in the industry. Boseman was reportedly convinced until about a week before he passed away that he would beat cancer, and was looking to start preparations for the sequel, which was set to start shooting in March. As a result, Marvel is now struggling to decide how to proceed with development plans for Black Panther 2, which has a 2022 release date.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Feige received an urgent email regarding Boseman on August 28th. By the time the Marvel executive read the message an hour later, Boseman had already died.

A source told THR that the 43-year-old actor had become noticeably thin in recent months. But he was convinced he would regain the weight in time for the sequel. The actor was going to start preparing for the sequel this month.

Ryan Coogler, who wrote and directed the first film and will helm the sequel as well, confirmed that he had been working on the script for Black Panther 2. “I spent the last year preparing, imagining and writing words for him to say, that we weren’t destined to see. It leaves me broken knowing that I won’t be able to watch another close-up of him in the monitor again or walk up to him and ask for another take,” Coogler wrote after Boseman’s death.

Disney is now processing the grief of losing a loved one, but also facing the realities of moving forward. Sources say that the company is focusing on the grief at the moment, not on making the sequel.

The first film in the franchise turned out to be a massive hit for Marvel. The movie was the first MCU film to put a Black character front and center in the story, and Boseman delivered a remarkable performance. The actor debuted as T’Challa/Black Panther before that, in the pivotal Captain America: Civil War which set both Black Panther and the last two Avengers movies in motion. Boseman starred in both of those as well.

Black Panther
Actress Letitia Wright playing T’Challa’s sister Shuri in Marvel MCU movies. Image source: Marvel Studios

In spite of that busy schedule, Boseman never shared details about his battle with cancer with anyone at Disney, or from the Black Panther crew. Only a few people outside of his family knew he was sick, with varying degrees of knowledge about the severity of the condition.

Film finance attorney Schuyler Moore told THR that a Marvel star would not require a medical examination for insurance purposes. “Big studios don’t often [get] completion bonds,” Moore said. “They are more prevalent in the indie filmmaking world. Sometimes, the big studios will look to insure for a particular actor, but they usually have a particular reason for doing so. Otherwise, studios will just shoulder the risk [of sickness or death].”

While Disney may not be ready to reveal plans about the Black Panther sequel right now, it’ll have to address the matter in the near future. The company has a few options available for explaining the disappearance of T’Challa from the MCU. An unpopular option is to replace Boseman with another actor who would play T’Challa. But such an outcome will certainly lead to plenty of criticism. Boseman’s T’Challa is so iconic for the MCU that you can’t just give the role to anyone. The other solution is simpler. T’Challa’s sister Shuri, played by Letitia Wright, would be the next in line to get take on the Black Panther mantle. Such a move is already expected, because that’s what happens in the comics.

The report also notes that Boseman’s death will ripple across the entire MCU, as Black Panther was set to appear in other interconnected films. That will probably still happen, although it will be a different Wakandan under that armor.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.