Warning: This article contains major spoilers for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
When Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman died in August 2020, his sudden passing shocked the entire world—including his Marvel family. Though the beloved actor had been diagnosed with colon cancer in 2016, Boseman was incredibly private about his health struggles; the King T’Challa actor continued to work through intensive cancer treatments and very few people knew of his diagnosis until after his death.
As the shock subsided, fans began to wonder how the Black Panther film franchise could possibly go on without its shining main star. While some called for Marvel to recast the role of T’Challa, studio President Kevin Feige and director Ryan Coogler decided Boseman was irreplaceable. Scrapping the script that had just been completed when Boseman died, Coogler reworked the entirety of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever to honor the real-life grief and pain of Boseman’s on-screen family.
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With the Wakandan King’s fate sealed in stone, fans have been left to wonder how T’Challa (who had only recently been resurrected after being wiped out by Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War) would die in the upcoming film—and based on a sneak peek shared by Collider, it turns out that T’Challa’s death is explained in a way that not only honors, but mirrors, Boseman’s passing.
How King T’Challa Dies in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Much like Boseman, T’Challa has been diagnosed with an (unspecified) illness that he hides from his loved ones until the very last minute. The opening scene sees his genius younger sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) desperately searching for a way to synthesize Heart-Shaped Herb after the nation’s natural supply was incinerated by villain Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) in the first film. Ultimately, Shuri loses the race against time and T’Challa dies, throwing Wakanda into mourning.
Although Boseman kept his diagnosis under wraps, a select few knew that the actor was gravely ill—among those, his wife Taylor Simone Ledward—and were able to say a proper goodbye ahead of his untimely passing. This is reflected in the mid-credits scene following Wakanda Forever, where Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) introduces Shuri to her nephew, revealing she and T’Challa had a secret son. Named after his father, it was decided that the younger T’Challa would be raised humbly outside of Wakanda as his father’s health deteriorated.
While this raises more questions than answers for the future of the Black Panther character, those involved with the film say that Wakanda Forever was a beautiful way to honor Boseman throughout.
“The movie is very much about how you move forward while dealing with a tragic loss,” producer Nate Moore told EW.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is in theaters everywhere November 11.