Black Panther lives: Here’s where you can see Chadwick Boseman’s last role
You don’t need anyone to elaborate when they express how much 2020 has sucked. Still, a prime example of how this has been a brutal year is the passing of Chadwick Boseman – a fantastic actor who became a superstar when he was cast as Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Chadwick Boseman succumbed to colon cancer after battling the disease for several years. Part of the horror surrounding the news of his death was our collective shock at realizing how long Boseman had been sick and how completely unaware of it we’d been. He simply kept working, through the chemo & the surgeries, and not even his costars had a clue about his condition.
Thankfully, Chadwick Boseman left a couple of unreleased movies behind, as well as one final turn in the MCU as T’Challa, the Black Panther. That final project isn’t Black Panther 2, but it will help ease the pain of his passing a little more nonetheless.
One of the many cool announcements during Disney’s Investor Day 2020 (were there any uncool announcements?) was the reveal of the MCU’s first animated series. Scheduled to debut on Disney+ next year, What If . . . ? will be inspired by Marvel Comics’s classic comic book series of the same name. And yes, Chadwick Boseman lent his talent to the show’s version of Black Panther.
What If . . . ? will explore alternate realities within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, answering questions such as “What if Peggy Carter volunteered to be injected with supersoldier serum?” or, as shown in the teaser trailer, “What if T’Challa became Starlord instead of Black Panther?”
The teaser also gives us a look at one of The Watchers – a legendary race in Marvel Comics who “watches” over the infinite multiple timelines. One of The Watchers would generally introduce the stories in the What If . . . ? comic book, so it looks like we’ll have a similar host on the show.
The anthology format of What If . . . ? will actually allow us to enjoy more than one version of Black Panther, and Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige has confirmed Chadwick Boseman recorded several times for the show.
In an interview with Emmy Magazine, Feige stated Chadwick Boseman “came in about four times and recorded numerous episodes. In hindsight, it’s very moving.” Now, how many of those What If . . . ? episodes feature T’Challa as the protagonist and how many feature him as Black Panther? The mind boggles at the alternate universe possibilities.
Feige is correct, though: Chadwick Boseman becoming Black Panther (and a Black-Pantherish Starlord and who knows what else) one last time is quite an unexpected, emotional gift to MCU fans everywhere. What If . . . ? won’t remove the sting of knowing we won’t have Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther 2, but it will help us cope.
Besides the MCU
What If . . . ? will be Chadwick Boseman’s last work to be released – and his last turn as Black Panther – but we’ve already had two instances of movies featuring Boseman and coming out after his death.
June gave us Da 5 Bloods, a Spike Lee joint about a group of Vietnam vets searching for buried treasure in their old stomping grounds. Chadwick Boseman plays Stormin’ Norman, the titular group’s inspirational leader. And just this week, Netflix released Ma’ Rainey’s Black Bottom – an adaptation of August Wilson’s play starring Viola Davis & Boseman.
Both movies showcase Chadwick Boseman’s range & charisma in a way that complements his more popular performance as Black Panther. Having to say goodbye to Boseman this early in his life is a terrible tragedy, but the power of his work endures and will help us transition into a world where he’s not around anymore.
Julio Olivera is an independent filmmaker and podcaster based in Austin, Texas. A native Peruvian, Julio fell in love with American media early on and has made it a constant driving force in his life since moving to the U.S.