Spoiler Alert: Spoilers Ahead for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever faced the monumental task of carrying on the franchise without former lead and beloved actor Chadwick Boseman. After the tragic loss, the sequel was forced to undergo drastic rewrites and find a new character to take over the Black Panther mantle.
Of course, there were plenty of options to choose from. However, T’Challa’s sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright), eventually found her way to the coveted role as the protector of Wakanda. As it turns out, a few other characters were in discussion for the part, as screenwriter Joe Robert Cole tells Rolling Stone. Winston Duke, who plays M’Baku, and Lupita Nyong’o, who plays Nakia, nearly took on the role of Black Panther in the long-awaited sequel. During Cole’s interview, he shares the initial discussion surrounding their characters and why they ultimately decided to go with Shuri.
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“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?” Cole said. M’Baku was one such name that appeared time and time again. “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.”
Lupita Nyong’o’s Nakia certainly would’ve made for an excellent Black Panther, though her character served her own purpose within Wakanda Forever. “That got kicked around! [Nyong’o’s] name got kicked around for sure.” But, ultimately, the writers decided to stick closer to the comics, which provided the clearest path for a Black Panther replacement. “There’s a natural organic-ness, I guess is the best way to say it, to her becoming Panther [because of what happens in the comics],” Cole explains. “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.”
Fans can see Letitia Wright’s Shuri take on the Panther mantle as Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is available in theaters now.
T’Challas Son Was Always Part of the Wakanda Forever Script
The mid-credit scene for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was quite a surprise for audiences, as T’Challa’s son is introduced into the MCU. He’s still very young, meaning he may not be a prominent character soon, if at all, though it was a touching moment nonetheless for fans.
According to Joe Robert Cole, his introduction was always part of the Wakanda Forever script, even before Chadwick Boseman’s death in 2020. “T’Challa had a child in a previous iteration of the script prior to Chad’s passing. Him having a child was always in the DNA of what we wanted to do,” Cole explained. “We just weren’t sure, after he passed, about the best way to incorporate him. So there were various iterations of his son being in our new story. And we finally landed on the reveal at the end.”
The future of the MCU looks bright in the coming months. The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special arrives later this week on Nov. 25, with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania kicking off Phase 5 of the MCU this coming February. Fans now hope that director Ryan Coogler begins to plot an eventual Black Panther 3, though any release is years away.