Did Marvel Make A Mistake By Not Recasting T’Challa For Black Panther: Wakanda Forever?

Black Panther

credit: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Note: Spoilers ahead for those who haven’t seen Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever represents the final chapter of Phase four. The film has grossed more than $767 million worldwide, yet its lackluster compared to the original Black Panther. Now, Black Panther 2’s box office run is far from over. It’s always possible that the film will end up crossing the billion-dollar mark, but it’s in its fifth week, and the numbers remain low despite little competition, so it’s hard to imagine the sequel crossing that giant landmark. It doesn’t help that Avatar: The Way of Water will be stealing the spotlight from the Marvel feature, which is projected to open big during its first weekend. There was simply no way that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was going to be a huge phenomenon like the original film, but the lack of strong buzz surrounding the feature is certainly shocking. Or is it?

There are plenty of reasons why Black Panther 2 just hasn’t captured the magic that the original did back in 2018; however, one of them actually stems from Marvel opting not to recast T’Challa. Once the tragic death of Chadwick Boseman was confirmed, fans wanted the studio to recast the character in honor of Boseman. In fact, Derrick Boseman, Chadwick’s brother, felt that the studio should’ve recast the role because it’s what his brother would have wanted. Kevin Feige never changed his stance on recasting T’Challa as the studio heads felt it was simply too soon; Plus, Feige and Ryan Coogler wanted to honor the legacy of both Boseman and T’Challa. On one hand, Marvel isn’t wrong for the way they handled the sudden death of Chadwick Boseman. Actor replacements are nothing new in the world of Hollywood. In fact, Marvel is guilty of this too as James ‘Rhody’ Rhodes was first played by Terrence Howard; however, the Iron Man sequel saw Don Cheadle take over the role without any mention of Howard. The Incredible Hulk was first played by Edward Norton, but that eventually changed to Mark Ruffalo.

Credit: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

You could also say that The Falcon taking over as Captain America is a replacement for the original actor. The same thing can be said about Shuri taking over the role of Black Panther. The characters aren’t the same, but the heroes they’re playing are. The point is that Hollywood isn’t above replacing talent if need be, but it’s respectable that Marvel wanted to keep to T’Challa’s legacy within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film does honor and respect T’Challa’s character; however, there’s a great void missing because Chadwick brought so much life and charisma to Black Panther. This isn’t to say that Shuri fails on all fronts. In fact, Letitia Wright does an excellent job with the role that she’s saddled with in Wakanda Forever, but at the end of the day, she just isn’t Chadwick Boseman. It would’ve been incredibly hard to fill his shoes regardless, but I don’t think Marvel is wrong for not recasting T’Challa.

The accidental problem that Marvel came across was that Shuri just wasn’t the inspired choice to take over as Black Panther. Storyline-wise, it makes sense how she took over the reins as the character, but in the eyes of many, that role should’ve been taken over by someone like M’Baku, who actually challenged T’Challa for the role in the first film. The accidental part is that Phase four has notably been heavily political with its messaging about female empowerment and feminism. This isn’t the fault of Ryan Coogler as all the television and films that have come before the sequel has beaten this message in the heads of viewers. It didn’t help that She-Hulk was the final straw for most audiences. This isn’t a black-and-white conversation because there are so many variables contributing to why Black Panther 2 just isn’t as hot as it should be, but there’s no denying that the political nature of the MCU has caused some fans to turn away from the product altogether.

Shuri

credit: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

No one knew who was going to be the next Black Panther, but it wasn’t hard to figure out. The lack of continuous word-of-mouth has been apparent as the box office numbers just haven’t been that strong. Would recasting T’Challa be the better move? It depends because this is a tricky balance. Coogler could’ve replaced the character with a male actor, but if that actor failed to be as good or better than Boseman, then the move could’ve backfired tremendously. Though I don’t think it’s wrong for Marvel to not recast T’Challa, they should’ve done so regardless. It all comes down to the respect of the story and the character itself. Fans wanted to follow the adventures of T’Challa, and Marvel opted to close that chapter for good. T’Challa has been the focal point of the comics going back to 1966, and the first film barely scratched the surface of the character. Black Panther didn’t just become a cultural phenomenon because it featured an all-black cast, but the character was a respected name in the comic book world that Marvel finally brought to the big screen. T’Challa’s legacy is now dead, and many genuine comic book fans weren’t happy with the studio opting to ignore their pleas to recast him. I know that Marvel is going after the mainstream audience, but they shouldn’t forget the importance of the comic book fans that have made their films so lucrative. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is by no means a flop, but by forgoing the legacy of the character, they, unfortunately, lost some fans along the way.

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