Another Marvel Character Was Almost the New Black Panther
The following post contains SPOILERS for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
While it seems that Shuri was the most obvious choice to pick up T’Challa’s mantle as Black Panther in Wakanda Forever, others were considered. Following the tragic and untimely death of Chadwick Boseman, director Ryan Coogler and screenwriter Joe Robert Cole were faced with a series of difficult decisions about the future of the character.
There were a number of potentials after Boseman’s passing. The first possibility was that Marvel abandoned the character altogether. Considering what a cultural landmark the first Black Panther was, that wasn’t really much of an option. Secondly, they could have shifted the story away from the character, and instead focused on the aftermath for other Wakandans. Thirdly, they could have just unceremoniously hired another actor to play T’Challa. Instead of using any of these tactics, they decided to honor Boseman and his portrayal of the character, while also selecting another character to pass the torch to.
That character wound up being Shuri, T’Challa’s sister. She’s established as a science genius, skilled in invention and technology. Sh’’s also directly related to T’Challa, making her an obvious choice. That being said, in a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Joe Robert Cole explained that she wasn’t the only character under consideration. Of course, every fan likely has a favorite potential character, but it also seems that Cole had one. Aside from Shuri, M’Baku was also a frontrunner. Cole shared the following:
We would kick around the ideas, and try to extrapolate where the story goes and what's the most impactful choice — what's the best journey? And where do you go after the film in terms of those characters? M’Baku certainly was someone that got kicked around a little bit. I think you're correct because in the comics, Shuri is Black Panther and there's a natural organicness, I guess is the best way to say it, to her becoming Panther. But you kick the tires on all sorts of ideas. And you just want to make the best decision and do what's best for the story.
Just like with writing Namor, the writing team decided to be true to the story and focus on where it was leading. When settling on a successor to T’Challa, they paid attention to what made sense from a plot perspective, rather than selecting a successor first and then writing a story around them.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is now playing in theaters everywhere.