How the creators of the sequel decided on a new Black Panther, revealing key mid-credits

BLACK PANTHER, from left: Lupita Nyong'o, Chadwick Boseman, Letitia Wright, 2018. © Admire / © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / Courtesy of Everett Collection

Lupita Nyong’o, Chadwick Boseman and Letitia Wright Black Panther. (Photo: © Marvel / © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures /Courtesy Everett Collection)

For the entire promotional tour of Black Panther: Wakanda Forevertipped director and co-writer Ryan Coogler on his toes as to what the original script for the long-awaited sequel looked like before Chadwick Boseman’s tragic death in 2020.

Coogler would let it be known that grief was still a major theme, with King T’Challa of Boseman dealing with the pain of losing five years on Earth for falling victim to Thanos’ snap at the end of Avengers: Infinite War (while in the final product the Wakandans have to deal with the pain of losing T’Challa).

But there’s something vital the filmmaker couldn’t say, as it would spoil the film’s deeply emotional mid-credits scene, which reveals that Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) and the late superhero had a young son (aka T’ Challa, but under the name Touissant in Haiti, where he lives with his mother).

Coogler planned all along for T’Challa to become a father, so why was he mourning those lost years on Earth.

“Honestly, that’s what the [original] script was about,” Coogler tells us when asked what tradeoffs went into giving T’Challa and Nakia a son. “It was about T’Challa becoming a father. So there was no consultation. That was the movie we were making. And then [Boseman died]and we shifted it a little bit.

Producer Nate Moore says of that first draft of the script, “Ryan wanted to explore the idea of ​​T’Challa facing fatherhood for the first time. So it wasn’t a response to anything… It was a story idea that was quite interesting. And [then when Boseman] passed, it did not seem appropriate to abandon it for that reason alone.

“It’s certainly not meant to say, ‘Oh hey, get ready for the new kid.’ It’s more like, ‘Oh, hey, what an interesting story point. And I think it really dimensions Nakia’s relationship with the guy, and shows you the depth of their commitment to each other, which I think is kind of powerful.

Still, Coogler, Moore, Kevin Feige, and the rest of the Marvel brain trust deserve major credit for finding such a tasteful solution to what became a major debate among fans in the years following Boseman’s death: Should T’Challa be recast ? Proponents would point to the fact that there have been three Spider-Men in the last 20 years. Opponents said it’s disrespectful to reshuffle so quickly.

With the introduction of a very young T’Challa, it feels like Marvel is essentially saying, there could be a new T’Challa someday… but not too soon. Right?

“Yes,” Coogler mutters after a long silence.

Moore is more committed: “Exactly. I think you’re right, and the end of the movie isn’t [saying] get ready for the next one, it’s just, ‘Hey, there’s a T’Challa. It’s not the one we all know and lose.” And I think it’s more respectful of the loss for that reason.

BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER, (aka BLACK PANTHER II), Letitia Wright, 2022. © Admire / © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

Enter Letitia Wright Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. (Photo: © Marvel / © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection)

Of course, Marvel had no choice but to replace Boseman when it came to the Black Panther mantle. Even that left fans with months of speculation, with no official pre-release announcement, and a trailer teasing who it would be. His sister Shuri (Letitia Wright)? Nakia? Okoye by Danai Gurira? Winston Duke’s M’Baku?

In the end, they chose the most obvious choice, one that they also hardly seemed to hide. Just look at the film’s marketing and movie posters, with Wright’s Shuri in the center, arms crossed in the Wakanda salute. Shuri also became Black Panther in the comics, coincidentally in a storyline as well Wakanda forever‘s main antagonist Namor (Tenoch Huerta).

“It was the only conversation we had,” says Moore. “It’s interesting because we’re aware of online conversations. But I’m also a big comics fan. When you think about publishing, this was kind of unavoidable. And if you think about it narratively, with the story we told, she’s been the most affected by T’Challa’s passing. And she may be the only one with the tools to bring back the Black Panther cloak, because if you remember the first movie, Killmonger had already destroyed the heart-shaped herb anyway.

“So narratively it made sense. And from a purist’s point of view, I think it’s really the only choice. Calling for M’Baku or Okoye was a bit like throwing darts at a dartboard to me… And Letitia Wright nails it. And Shuri’s transition from where she starts to where she ends in this film tells the story of why she should be Black Panther.”

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever now playing.

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