The death of Chadwick Boseman has been a huge shock this year. After his passing, we learned together that Boseman was battling pancreatic cancer for the past four years. This means that all of the films he’s been apart of since his casting as T’Challa in Captain America Civil War has been with the knowledge that he would be fighting a difficult battle. Since the announcement, there have been reactions on YouTube with support and love for Boseman. I personally had to stop what I was doing and record my feelings when I finally accepted that the news was accurate. For the most part, I did not want to talk about what people in my circle of film fans naturally would begin with, which was “What his death does to the film franchise of Black Panther” I waited a few days to dive deep into that conversation and went live on the T3Medias YouTube channel to give my reaction to the news. I was impressed that he was able to keep the situation private and have his last moments on earth uninterrupted with loved ones.
Let’s talk about what you’re mostly wanting and speculating about the future of the franchise. Lawrence Mello from Facebook said, “I would love to see Shuri as the BP, but is there any more of the sacred root that gave him his super strength? They would have to tell how the sacred root survived. Also, have to figure out how to show the challenge for the thrown scene with Shuri.” My response to this was, “That prediction is wrong. Kevin Feige has a timeline and nothing will interfere with that. Plus Chadwick loved this project he would want to see it continue. T'Challa was created years before Chadwick was even born. It's important to keep it going”. For the most part, people who are huge fans of Chadwick are fusing this fandom to their love for Black Panther. In the end, Kevin Fiegi has the final say. He's generated over 20 billion dollars of the box office. His decision will not be overwritten by anyone. There's only one person above him and Bob Chapek isn’t going against Kevin.
If you are one of the people who believe that Black Panther 2 should not happen to “honor” Chadwick there’s something you must know. Its the actor that is meant to service the character. The character is not meant to be serving the actor. Chadwick was a quality high-class actor he knew this, Heath ledger knew this, Paul Walker knew this. Fans always get in their feelings and say that a product which affects other actors other staff members and hundreds of people behind the scenes should stop producing because of one person. That one person (in this case Chadwick) would not have wanted it that way. Look at Chadwick's work ethic and how he kept fighting all the way to the end. Why would he want the story to stop? Ending the story does not honor Chadwick. Building on top of what Chadwick created and helped launch honors him. I broke all this stuff down on my show. You don't have to agree but you can time stamp this conversation. Kevin Feige has never been shy about recasting. Look at the Rhody character in Ironman, once played by Terrance Howard then replaced by Don Cheadle in the sequel. Though this was a different circumstance the end was still the same, recasting. There are other examples when the main character has passed away and interrupted the development of a sequel. Warner Brothers had this happen to them when the Dumbledore actor passed away fans said the same things, “we should not recast” but recast they did and it kept the spirit of the character alive.
And for another example of a billion-dollar franchise to recast a major role look at Harry Potter. Similar situation. The odds of recasting are very high and as I said on my show I believe Chadwick will get an executive producer credit on Black Panther 2 for helping decide who should take on the role after his death.
The few examples that we saw floating around for a possible replacement included Michael B Jordan, Daniel Kaluuya, and others. But my pick that I would love to see take on the mantle of T’Challa aka Black Panther and continue the story that Chadwick helped begin would be John David Washington. Here are the five reasons why I would love to see this happen.
1. Chadwick Boseman pays tribute to Denzel Washington
At the 47th AFI Life Achievement Award on June 6, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre. Chadwick Boseman tells the world, “there is no BLACK PANTHER without Denzel Washington. And not just because of me. My whole cast, that generation, stands on your shoulders.” Denzel Washington paid to send Chadwick to acting classes. It was this action that set the future king on his path to becoming the ruler of Wakanda on the big screen and portrays the first King of the MCU. The poetry to have a JDW take on the role and continue the path that his father helped pave. It wasn’t too long ago when Disney paid for the rights to Fox which includes the X-Men that fans have been clamoring for Denzel to play Magneto. This could be the next best thing
2. Family & Honor
The way JDW also honored Boseman probably will resonate with audiences. Pointing out the similarities between the two actors, from their drive, education, and connections was something that made me and I’m betting a lot of people in Disney think. “This may be the way to go”. There are those pointing out that Shuri eventually becomes the Black Panther and leads Wakanda. This is a plot that happens much later in the career of the character. After one movie it would be rushed. We have no had much time to see both T’Challa and Shuri develop on the screen to take this direction. Having the character T’Challa have more time with his sister before “possibly” passing on the mantle of ruler would be better than just starting a movie with Shuri becoming Queen of Wakanda for no reason that would come off as believable after what happened in the original BP.
3. Powerful Reminder
For the people saying that it would be disrespectful to Chadwick to continue using moving forward with Black Panther will be feeling very differently once the next MCU movie is released and at the end of the credits you see these words fade into the dark screen “In Loving Memory of Chadwick Boseman: Rest In Power” and see Chadwick's image displayed seconds later. When fans remember that there was another story to tell that was months away from production and a script already in hand. Fans will later start to say to themselves and others “Man, I really wish we could have seen that”.
4. This Has Happened Before
John Campea says it all the time. It is the actor's job to service the movie/character, not the movie/character's job to service the actor. Chadwick's death is a tragedy. He and I are close in age and as a black man it has me thinking of my own legacy and health but would I want everything that I’ve built or helped launch just end with my passing? No. No one would say that. It's our love for Chadwick and our selfishness to want him and only him to that is causing us to grieve in polarizing ways. Brandon Lee’s death did not end the telling of the amazing film The Crow, and no one was saying that the completion of it disrespected Lee in any way. Bradon Routh played the same Superman that Christopher Reeve portrayed years ago. Dumbledore being played by two actors showed us that we can still honor the character and the person who died playing him first.
I just saw this film on the big screen. Blackkklansmen was a great leading role but seeing JDW lead a commanding, powerful, smooth, skillful, and sometimes fun-loving character as he did in Tenet made it absolutely clear that he can fill the shoes with ease. The only question is can he give a convincing Wakanda accent?
Those are my five reasons that T’Challa should continue in the MCU and why I think John David Washington is best positioned to take on the role. What do you think of my reasoning?