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Black Panther: The 'Recast T'Challa' Movement May Have Been Right About Wakanda Forever

GameRant 11/28/2022 Raul Velasquez
© Provided by GameRant

The dust has long settled on that matter as Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s premiere only confirms what Marvel fans had known for a while: Letitia Wright’s Shuri is the new Black Panther and though Chadwick Boseman’s name lives on in the memories of many, his most culturally significant character was officially laid to rest.

The statement seems rather odd for a man who played movie incarnations of African American icons such as Jackie Robinson, James Brown and Thurgood Marshall, however, that being the case only underlines how deep Marvel superheroes have become ingrained in modern pop culture. Coincidentally, it’s that very status that the #RecastT’Challa movement argued called for a different strategy, and the way Wakanda Forever outlines the MCU’s future plans for Black Panther may have just proved their point to some extent.

RELATED: Why Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Is The Perfect Finale For Phase 4

What Recast T’Challa Is All About?

Initially championed by movie YouTuber E-Man (Eman’s Movie Reviews), one of the main arguments posed by the initiative was that Marvel Studios ultimately opted for Boseman not be replaced too soon, as the decision was first announced in December 2020, just 4 months after the actor’s passing. It bears saying that while it’s entirely up to Ryan Coogler, Kevin Feige, the cast and all the people that worked closely with Boseman and befriended him to decide what was to be done, it’s impossible to ignore the move attended to the need of releasing Black Panther 2 within the studio’s set timeline.

That precisely happens to be one of the main criticisms from those who supported #RecastT’Challa, Boseman could be replaced, but that in no way whatsoever meant that a new actor had to step in the role anytime soon. Although that angle appears to have been partly embraced judging from Wakanda Forever’s post-credits scene, the fact is that setup indicates viewers won’t be seeing T’Challa for quite a while, even considering a more than likely time jump involving the young prince.

That ties up nicely with one of the other main points, that in post-Endgame MCU, T’Challa had the potential to be one of Marvel top tier heroes, a black superhero for that matter. Spider-Man, Batman and Superman are the world's most popular superheroes, yet the MCU made it possible for Iron Man, Captain America and Thor to close the gap a bit and become nearly as famous, with Black Panther possibly coming close, as proven by the first movie’s unprecedented success — After all, T’Challa gave Marvel Studios its biggest non-Avengers movie.

Regardless of how meaningful Wakanda Forever is for female representation, another area where Marvel has failed to deliver in many ways, it’s not an understatement to say Shuri can’t ever hope to match T’Challa’s appeal. T'Challa's little sis does have a valid claim dating from the comic books, but sadly Shuri's stint as Black Panther was short-lived, barely spanning a few issues before the character went back to her supporting role.

#RecastT’Challa, a movement driven by mostly African American voices, maintains that by not recasting for Boseman’s part, Marvel has robbed millions of black people all over the world from seeing themselves represented at the highest echelons of pop culture. Where T’Challa could have become the next Tony Stark, Shuri possibly won’t ever be as important as Black Widow, and it turns out Boseman may have agreed with that sentiment.

Boseman’s Thoughts On Black Panther

Chadwick Boseman once called T’Challa his most important role, which is quite a bold statement for an actor of his caliber, and yet seeing the impact the first Black Panther had, it’s hard to disagree with that notion. 42 told the story of Jackie Robinson, one of sports' greatest figures, but Black Panther had access to millions of young viewers worldwide and instead of depicting the harsh history of those of African descent, it imagined a reality unlike any other.

Black Panther is peak afrofuturism, it’s the sole mainstream product that portrays an advanced African society that was never shackled by colonialism, and even if the franchise’s imagery stays intact, Wakanda Forever is still missing its king. Boseman understood this, and while his true desire was never made public, his own brother has come out to say, he believes the late actor would have probably preferred a full recast.

Above all things, Boseman was a very serious actor, he went to Howard University to learn the craft and perfected it for years in theaters before landing his first big break in 42. As an artist, it’s easy to imagine he may have seen Black Panther as a bigger entity than himself, thus understanding the importance of the role to exist and why he tackled the part wanting people to accept T’Challa as the icon, rather than himself — that is what acting is all about.

Suffice it to say, there was never a place for a right or wrong decision after Boseman’s death, and if his family is happy with the choices made in Wakanda Forever, that’s as close as it gets to fulfilling Boseman’s will. Nevertheless, even if the sequel honors his legacy, it’s impossible not to feel Boseman’s death wasn’t partly used as marketing for what is in the end a money-making machine.

The MCU’s multiverse plans mean fans won’t have to wait that long to see another version of Black Panther, but even then the young T’Challa is not the same character the late actor built up, he still has to carry the weight his on-screen parents sought to take off his shoulders. No other Black Panther will ever match Chadwick Boseman’s breakthrough, and perhaps embracing that head-on was the best way to continue telling a story too important for the MCU to put on hold.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is currently available in theaters.

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