In a rather controversial decision by Marvel Studio head Kevin Feige T’Challa has died in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

T’Challa, the head of Wakanda and the titular Black Panther lost the actor who brought him to live-action for the first time with the passing of Chadwick Boseman. Boseman played the role in that one Captain America movie I won’t watch out of protest for anything related to Marvel’s “Civil War” nonsense, some of the Avengers movies, and finally in his own film, Black Panther. This of course isn’t the first appearance of the character ever as he was a Marvel superhero, appearing in comics and cartoons (including a rather terrible solo series loosely adapting a story from the comics in the 2000s–he totally deserves better than something only slightly more animated that The Marvel Super Heroes).

Not that this matters to Hollywood of course. I’ve been chronicling a lot lately how little Hollyweird cares about the “lesser media” of comics and cartoons along with video games. While Marvel Studios used to care about faithfully representing the comics this seemed to disappear when Disney bought Marvel Comics and Paramount stopped releasing the MCU movies in favor of the House Of Mouse who seems almost embarrassed by their animation roots outside of TV and Pixar. Feige has given his reason for not re-casting and frankly I think he’s full of it. No offense to Boseman, who I’m sure did a good job–I haven’t seen enough of him in the Avengers films and Black Panther is on the Finally Watched list…though now it’s rather tentative given how little interest they seem to have in the character–but that’s my point. Black Panther isn’t Chadwick Boseman, but that’s the current presentation, which is disrespectful to the character, and to the fans…and possibly Boseman’s own wishes.

In an interview with Empire, Feige tries to make his case for not recasting the kind of Wakanda.

“It just felt like it was much too soon to recast,” he says, likening their approach to Marvel’s long-standing ethos in the comics. “Stan Lee always said that Marvel represents the world outside your window. And we had talked about how, as extraordinary and fantastical as our characters and stories are, there’s a relatable and human element to everything we do. The world is still processing the loss of Chad. And Ryan (Coogler, the director) poured that into the story.”

Once Feige and Coogler figured out where they wanted to go, they got back to work on making a sequel that really mattered. “The conversations were entirely about, yes, ‘What do we do next?’” Feige explains. “And how could the legacy of Chadwick – and what he had done to help Wakanda and the Black Panther become these incredible, aspirational, iconic ideas – continue? That’s what it was all about.” We’ll find out exactly how Wakanda Forever honours that legacy in just a few weeks’ time.

Apparently we may have already found out. Rumors and images from various toys, including a LEGO set, and even events in the comics seem to be pushing T’Challa’s sister Shuri as the new Black Panther over his comic brothers. Granted I only know he has brothers from a fan wiki as I didn’t follow the character so I don’t know if they have MCU counterparts, but the role has traditionally gone to a male heir. Of course we can’t have that anymore. Despite Shuri’s high position in Wakandan government it apparently isn’t enough. Still, this is rumor and reading into pictures of LEGO toys and a comic company that has put social propaganda over making good characters, apparently telling us they don’t know HOW to make a black woman equal to a man without taking his position…though how we’re supposed to believe they can make a black woman into a good character instead of a color and gender stereotype is anyone’s guess. It’s all they know how to do.

As far as honoring the “legacy of Chadwick”, that’s also bogus. First of all, Black Panther isn’t Chadwick Boseman, he’s T’Challa. The role wasn’t created for Boseman, who was born in 1976, he was created for a comic book in 1966–a decade before Boseman was born. T’Challa, Wakanda, and everything attached to it debuted in issue #52 of the original Fantastic Four comic, before Marvel relaunched titles whenever they felt like. (What volume are we up to now with Fantastic Four? Marvel doesn’t even attempt to keep track anymore. Pretty sure they’ve relaunched Captain Marvel so many times the volume is in double digits because screw you, Billy Batson fans over at DC.) Simply entitled “The Black Panther”, the story (written by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby so if you’re screaming “Wakanda Forever” all over the place thank two Jewish men) has T’Challa wanting to test his skills in order to be a better protector of his people and homeland by forcing the Fantastic Four to survive him and his various traps.

Since then T’Challa has appeared in his own comic, made appearance in various Marvel cartoons, and maybe video games? I’m not certain. The point is the character wasn’t created for Boseman the same way The Meteor Man was for Robert Townsend. You know, the ACTUAL first all-black cast superhero movie from 1993.

There is now a hashtag on Twitter calling for T’Challa to be recast. Here are a few examples.


Yeah, that “potentially sensitive content” according to Twitter is the same Black Panther concept art I used at the start of the article. Piss off, Twitter!

As to the “you don’t want a woman as a hero”, there are numerous articles on this very website listing strong female characters I grew up that counters that. I even did a new installment recently. My question is why does Shuri have to be Black Panther to be a great character? Some of my favorite characters weren’t even the hero of the movie. Others were. There were women of color in positions of authority on those lists I just linked to and women in support roles that, had they not been there, the male or other female hero would have lost the fight or not have as good a character arc. Shuri, from what I read because again I didn’t follow the series about people with superultraadvanced technology that refuses to share even the cure for cancer due to some worry that it will be weaponized…somehow, holds a position of authority within Wakandan society, is a skilled warrior, and could probably find a way to create her own identity for the daughters of the Panther Tribe or Cult Of The Panther or whatever it is. Why does she specifically need the king’s identity to feel important? Would she be less important, less beloved, or less powerful if she went with Panthress or something? (Granted that name may be in use somewhere because all the good hero names are being taken.) You don’t have to be the boss to have a fulfilled life. I’d rather make the comics than run the publisher.

Meanwhile names like Y’lan Noel and John Boyega have been suggested. I don’t know Noel’s work and I wonder if Boyega would work with Disney after his Star Wars character was treated. Noel has said he wouldn’t mind taking on the role of the currently most famous black superhero from comics (sorry Static and Black Lightning) while Boyega actually might work. As badly as Finn was treated in the Prequels I thought he was pretty good in Pacific Rim: Uprising.

It’s not like the MCU hasn’t recast characters already. Because Ike Perlmutter was an idiot (the only good thing about the Disney purchase is he’s out of there) they replaced Terrance Howard as James Rhodes with Don Cheadle because Howard wanted too much money for Perlmutter and one black man was as good as another to him. (So yeah, kind of racist, too.) I have nothing against Cheadle but Howard just fit Rhodey better and I would have rather seen him as War Machine. It’s not even limited to color. Edward Norton was Bruce Banner in the first MCU Hulk movie but after that it was the current Mark Ruffalo, who in my opinion is the better choice. And those people were still alive when recast so there was no need to do so. But do you know who else is in favor of recasting Boseman? His own brother, according to TMZ.

Here’s the thing … Derrick tells us he believes his sibling would’ve wanted with this too — explaining Chadwick thought T’Challa was bigger than just himself as one guy. Frankly, Derrick says Chadwick knew the power of the character, and the positive influence it carries.

Derrick says there’s so much power in seeing a Black king — especially in a superhero capacity, like in the Marvel flick — which has a HUGE impact on African-American youth. DB tells us with Marvel killing off that character so quickly in the wake of Chadwick’s death, they’re kinda depriving black kids of a role model.

Derrick says there aren’t a whole lot of positive influences for young black children these days — he thinks hip-hop glorifies certain social ills, and Marvel has a chance to counteract that by bringing back T’Challa — who he sees as a symbol of Black people’s potential.

The guy speaks from experience, telling us his own nephew has told the family he wants to be a scientist and cites ‘Black Panther’ as his inspiration.

He does note … Chadwick never explicitly expressed his wishes, before his death, about what should happen with the character — but Derrick’s sure his bro would agree T’Challa should live on in the MCU.

However, they won’t. I think they see an opportunity to get a black woman hero, possibly their own The Woman King, a movie that was promoted as being a strong black warrior woman (Viola Davis even tried to push the “you’re a racist sexist if you don’t see my movie” instead of “this is such a good movie that you should go see it because it shows a strong black woman warrior in a great tale”) and ignoring that it covered for a tribe who made their money selling the people whose tribes they conquered into the slave trade even after the events of this movie, which was already fictionalized according to History Vs. Hollywood.

I know Hollywood doesn’t care about comic books outside of already existing properties they can use for lazy marketing even though they don’t understand why those properties are popular. I know they don’t care about characters or fans that were already into those characters before they came along. I know Hollywood’s elites are even pushing back against superhero movies and have been against animation, comics, video games, and anything else not starring actors or media older than time. That means I know I’m talking to a brick wall of media snobbery who just wants to show how “good” they are. (Especially that one group I mockingly call “the GOOD white people” because they’re just a different form of racist when you actually examine them.) However, I’m hopeful the next generation of storytellers will see through this bullcrap and start making stories, respecting source material that was beloved before they were born, and not make the same mistakes.

I don’t expect to see that in my lifetime anymore. Respecting Chadwick Boseman doesn’t mean disrespecting T’Challa or what he’s come to represent. Give him the tribute he deserves (though I don’t know a lot of his filmography either), but recast T’Challa for the kids and adults he can inspire, the fans who already want to see more of his adventures, and the work that was made in creating him. Boseman is just one man. T’Challa is already a legacy.


About ShadowWing Tronix

A would be comic writer looking to organize his living space as well as his thoughts. So I have a blog for each goal. :)

One response »

  1. […] with the supposed all-important title of “looks like me”. I’ve written about this before but I saw some specific talking points in the trending hashtag on Twitter so I want to address them […]


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