Honoring Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther returns in “Wakanda Forever”


After his passing, the world mourned and honored Chadwick Boseman. With the release of the new “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” Boseman is again beautifully remembered by his friends and coworkers.

Warning: The following article contains spoilers for the movie “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”

In 2018, “Black Panther” was released as part of Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It grossed over $1.3 billion worldwide and was nominated for seven Academy Awards, winning three of them in addition to many other accolades. This movie was well received around the world, especially because of the strong representation it created for the Black community. Chadwick Boseman with his performance as T’Challa/Black Panther became an icon looked up to by many people of color, especially children, who could finally see themselves in the Avengers movie saga. Fans waited with bated breath for the return of Wakanda and the Black Panther in Phase Four. Unfortunately, on Aug. 28, 2020, Chadwick Boseman passed away from colon cancer at the age of 43. Boseman was an inspiration to many and was mourned by his fans and peers alike. 

Shortly after his passing, 58,000 fans signed a petition to erect a statue in Boseman’s honor to replace an old Confederate statue in his hometown in South Carolina. He remains an icon of strength and compassion for the Black community and has been memorialized as such. During the MTV music video awards, host Keke Palmer began the event with a dedication to Boseman labeling him a “true hero” both on the screen and in everything he did. Additionally, the creators of the Marvel Universe produced a tribute video where his friends in the cast and crew were able to commemorate Boseman and all that he meant to them. 

This dedication emphasizes the importance of preventing the pain of loss to outweigh the happiness of a loved one’s life.

As the shock of Boseman’s death wore off people began to wonder about the future of the “Black Panther” saga. Many fans were extremely opposed to recasting his character T’Challa with a new actor and a common idea was to have Shuri, played by Letitia Wright, become the new Black Panther. The producers for the movie seemed to agree with fans as Marvel Studio President Kevin Feige mentioned it felt too soon for a recast. Boseman’s fellow stars of the saga also struggled with his absence when filming the second installment and seemed resistant to a recast. Ultimately, writer and director, Ryan Coogler, decided to take the path fans had hoped for and have Shuri become the new Black Panther, protector of Wakanda. 

Despite Boseman’s absence from “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” he was honored throughout the movie with mentions of his character. At the beginning of the movie, Shuri is shown frantically working to recreate the heart-shaped herb to heal her brother of a mysterious illness. This opening scene is concluded with the mention of T’Challa’s death and Shuri and her mother Ramonda’s grief and desperation as they cling to each other. This scene was a beautiful nod to Boseman’s illness and to the loss his family and friends have been experiencing. Most Marvel Avengers movies follow the opening scene with a montage of many different Avengers characters ending in the Marvel logo. In “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” Coogler instead used this moment to show a montage of only T’Challa in honor of Boseman and his contribution to the Avengers legacy. As a final tribute to Boseman, at the end of the movie Shuri mourns the loss of her brother and begins the process of healing by ritually burning her mourning garb. While she takes this moment to grieve, another montage of Boseman, as T’Challa, is shown of his happiest moments. This dedication emphasizes the importance of preventing the pain of loss to outweigh the happiness of a loved one’s life.

Throughout this movie, the production team and cast did a phenomenal job of honoring Chadwick Boseman’s memory tactfully while still being true to the art and story of “Black Panther.”