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Here’s how the MCU could give a fitting send-off to Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther

Published Sep 20th, 2020 1:38PM EDT
Marvel Movies
Image: Marvel Studios

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  • Replacing Chadwick Boseman as King T’Challa/Black Panther will be a difficult task for Marvel, and the studio has yet to announce how it will move forward with Black Panther 2.
  • The fans of the actor have already voiced their desires online, urging Disney not to recast T’Challa, and have a different actor replace Boseman. The easiest way out would be for Marvel to pass the Black Panther mantle to Shuri, which is what happens in the comics.
  • Marvel would still have to explain the disappearance of T’Challa.
  • Here we explain how a heroic death of the king while wearing the Black Panther armor one last time could work and why Marvel should film a post-credits scene to bring closure to his story.

Chadwick Boseman passed away three weeks ago after a secret battle with cancer, and his untimely death shocked the entire world. It wasn’t just the millions of Marvel fans who loved Boseman as Black Panther in the MCU who were shocked by the news. Reports that followed indicated that Disney and Marvel did not know the actor was battling the terrible illness as he was shooting his scenes for the MCU films.

We learned that Boseman was confident he would overcome the medical difficulties and hoped he would be ready to start preparing for the Black Panther sequel that has already been announced. The movie isn’t included in the fourth phase of MCU films, but it should premiere at some point in 2022 — assuming the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t delay production, and assuming Disney figures out how to move forward.

Disney and Marvel have yet to say how they plan to move forward with Black Panther 2. But it’s clear they’ll have to prepare to replace the actor with someone else and go forward with the film. A previous report also said that Boseman was to appear in other Marvel crossovers, so his death has broader implications for the MCU. Fans already know who should be the next Black Panther, with plenty of them taking to social media to express their feelings. Some have even started online petitions urging Disney not to recast the role. Instead, Disney should pass on the Black Panther mantle to a different member of Wakanda’s royal family or a different tribe leader.

What’s unique about Black Panther compared to many other Marvel superheroes is that anyone can wear the armor. It doesn’t have to be King T’Challa. Captain America, Black Widow, and Thor might be the closest examples we have. Even without Steve Rogers, the world will have replacements to carry on the symbol of Captain America. And word on the street is that someone else will become the next Black Widow. As for Thor, he might end up passing the hammer to Jane Foster, who could become the next Thor, as she does in the comics.

Getting back to Black Panther 2, Marvel has a few simple options. The most unpopular choice would be to have a different actor play Black Panther. That’s something fans have made clear they don’t want. And it’s unlikely that any actor would be willing to replace Boseman. The easier route would be to have the king die at some point soon so that Shuri can succeed him as Black Panther, just as it happens in the comics. This may have been the plan all along for Marvel, but Boseman’s untimely passing might accelerate those plans.

But how do you move on from the character in a way that would do Boseman justice? Having a digital recreation of the actor seems out of the question, and that’s not the way studios should go when an actor passes away. The king can die offscreen, and other characters would relay that story early in the sequel. We’d never get to see it happen, and Shuri would take over.

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

I explained a few days ago that Marvel might have an even better avenue to replace Boseman, while still honoring his versions of King T’Challa and Black Panther. That’s where post-credits scenes can help, which would give Marvel prime placement for a thoughtful tribute to the actor. After all, Marvel popularized movie credits scenes with the MCU, and fans are well-trained when it comes to waiting for those post-credits scenes to arrive.

The purpose of these scenes isn’t just to give fans a quick taste of what’s coming next, but also to help Marvel connect the various MCU films. These can be iconic scenes that will remain with fans, standing out from whatever happened in the movie they’re attached to.

I said last week that having Black Panther die in a post-credits scene would also benefit the story. Whoever gets to kill Black Panther must be a terrifying villain. After all, T’Challa is a powerful hero. Marvel could advance the villain’s arc while simultaneously paying homage to Boseman. And a credits scene would need to have a battle sequence where T’Challa’s Black Panther would be defeated. We would not need a digital recreation of Boseman, or any spoken lines. Everyone in the audience would know who is wearing the suit. And the villain or other characters would make it clear that T’Challa had been defeated.

The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to find out whether or not an MCU post-credits scene would be a suitable place to kill a major character in the cinematic universe.

Avengers: Infinity War - Thanos
Screenshot from Avengers: Infinity War: Thanos using the Infinity Gauntlet. Image source: Marvel Studios

After rewatching all of the post-credits scenes in the MCU so far, I quickly categorized the kinds of events that are shown in these scenes. Overall, the point of the scenes is to move the story forward with teasers, like Nick Fury telling Tony Stark at the end of Iron Man about the Avengers Initiative, or The Winter Soldier’s revelation that Hydra is still a threat, or the apparent prelude to Civil War in one of Ant-Man’s credits scene. Or Boseman’s iconic revelation that Wakanda is actually a lot more advanced than you’d think, and it’s about to take a leading role in the world at the end of the first Black Panther. Or Fury’s SWORD introduction at the end of Far From Home.

Some of the credits scenes introduce a new character, whether it’s a new superhero, a major villain, or an Easter egg. The list of examples includes Thor (Iron Man), Thanos (The Avengers), the Collector (Thor: The Dark World, Wanda and Pietro Maximoff (The Winter Soldier), Howard the Duck (Guardians 1), the Wasp (Ant-Man), Adam Warlock (Guardians 2), and Captain Marvel (Infinity War).

Others focus on certain key objects for the MCU plot, like the Infinity Stones (Iron Man 2, Thor: The Dark World), and the Infinity Gauntlet (Avengers: Age of Ultron). Other objects like Thor’s Hammer (Iron Man 2) and Fury’s beeper (Infinity War) tease these specific superheroes.

Some of these scenes focus on tragedies, including deaths or the danger of imminent death. Groot growing up in Guardians 1 reminds us that we’ll get a new Groot. Grandmaster surviving Thor: Ragnarok is also a teaser that we might see the character again after he escaped death. But Infinity War and Ant-Man and the Wasp show us several main characters that are dusted after Thanos snapped his fingers, including Nick Fury and Maria Hill (Infinity War) and Hank and Hope Pym and Janet Van Dyne (Ant-Man and the Wasp).

Not to mention that we only get to see Thanos in credits scenes before Infinity War. The villain appears in The Avengers, Age of Ultron, and Thor: Ragnarok.

Finally, Boseman himself appeared in two credits scenes already, including Civil War, to tease Black Panther, and Black Panther, to share with the world Wakanda’s biggest secret.

These credits scenes further reinforce my theory that having King T’Challa die in one last fight as Black Panther in an upcoming credits scene would provide an excellent exit for Boseman’s iconic character. The credit scene would tick off several of the boxes above. It would allow Marvel to advance the story and connect several movies and shows, it would help to introduce a significant villain or grow their arc, and it would give Black Panther another memorable moment, even if we’ll never get to see Boseman act again.

And the best part about it is that Marvel would not even have to wait that long to deliver such a credits scene. It would not have to happen in the film or TV series that precedes the sequel. Marvel could release it at any time in the near future. That way, it wouldn’t just surprise fans with an emotional plot development, it would also pay tribute to Boseman’s work for the MCU in a timely way after his passing.

All of this is pure speculation, of course, and it should be treated accordingly.

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.