NOTE: It’s been a week since Chadwick Boseman’s death. I wanted to allow sufficient time to pass for the Black Panther fanbase to grieve before I ask (and answer) an uncomfortable question:

“What does the future hold for the Black Panther franchise?”

I apologize if this article comes across as insensitive, and will accept any and all criticism pertaining to that. Thank you.

Chadwick: Life and Death

As if this year couldn’t get any stranger, sadder, and more unpredictable. Chadwick Boseman of the Black Panther movie franchise passed away after a then-unannounced bout with colon cancer.

To the African-American community, this is symbolically devastating during a year of urban riots in Minneapolis and elsewhere.

In my view, the Black community didn’t lose anything with Boseman’s death. Chadwick showed them the value of devoting yourself to your passion.

He showed them that not even cancer can stop you from achieving your dreams.

His life and death taught many of us a lesson. He was an icon in life and can be one in death, too.

Chadwick Boseman in Infinity War. Boseman is in his Black Panther costume.
Marvel. 2019.

Different lives and different deaths. Different stories and different lessons.

What the Future Holds

As we move forward, Disney/Marvel find themselves in a pickle: How will they continue the Black Panther franchise (if at all)?

Many fans are already rebuking the idea of a replacement for Chadwick. Hey, that’s understandable. To hire a stand-in for Chadwick would be disrespectful to his memory.

A Double-Edged Sword

It’d be as if the actor’s real-life death never happened, nor did said death even matter.

There was a reason Christopher Nolan didn’t give the Joker duties to someone else in The Dark Knight Rises. Heath Ledger poured his soul into the role. Recasting him would’ve been a slap in the face to the actor’s work and legacy.

Sure, money talks in corporate boardrooms but there are some lines you can’t breach. (Okay, maybe it’s all done in the name of goodwill. In that case…money still talks)

An image of a corporate businessman pointing his finger at you.
Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

Proposals

Write Him Out

One proposal is that T’Challa (Black Panther) should be written out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe entirely. Basically, just act like he never existed. Act like Thanos made one last snap that deprived Wakanda of its beloved King.

Shuri

Another suggestion is that Shuri (T’Challa’s sister) should take up the reins and don the Black Panther suit (there was a storyline in the comics where she did just that after T’Challa was injured).

In my opinion, she’s more like the Alfred Pennyworth to T’Challa’s Batman, not necessarily his Robin. I’m not sure the actress (Letitia Wright) can adequately headline her own movie either (name recognition counts in this business, unfortunately).

My Take

So how about this? Here’s my take on what Marvel should do:

Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger in Black Panther.
Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger. Marvel Studios. Black Panther. 2018.

Remember Erik Killmonger? The villain from the first movie played by Michael B. Jordan?

Remember the guy who temporarily dethroned T’Challa as King? The guy who sought to exploit the country’s sophisticated weaponry and aid Blacks languishing in America?

As any comic book movie would go, the villain dies in the end and the hero emerges victorious.

How about this? How about the Marvel writers devise a way to bring the Killmonger character back to life?

Let Me Explain…

Trust me, Hollywood writers can do whatever the hell they want. Bring Killmonger back to life and tell the audience that something happened to T’Challa and was killed.

Now, stick with me here. Marvel potentially has a VERY interesting character arc on their hands. The first movie’s conflict stemmed from Killmonger’s desire to steal Wakanda’s tech and benefit the downtrodden urbanites in America.

T’Challa, on the other hand, insisted on keeping Wakanda secluded so as not to make their tech known to the rest of the world.

In other words, Killmonger was a benevolent imperialist. T’Challa was an apathetic isolationist.

After Killmonger’s death, T’Challa realized that maybe his adversary was onto something. The strong must look out for the weak. The movie closed out with the King of Wakanda revealing his country’s true nature to the entire world for the first time.

Good Opportunity

Boseman’s death, while tragic, opens the door to a potentially interesting opportunity. They could have Killmonger go from being a Black nationalist, in the Malcolm X mold, to the King of Wakanda with an admiration for his African ancestry and traditions.

T’Challa actually met Killmonger’s philosophy halfway at the end of the first movie. Maybe it’s Killmonger’s turn to do the same?

Erik Killmonger in Black Panther, as King of Wakanda.
Black Panther. Property of Disney and Marvel Studios. 2018.

For both men…for both characters to ultimately soften their initial stances and essentially become each other. Hey, that makes for some pretty darn good storytelling.

Jordan: Gonna Fly Now?

Michael B. Jordan has already headlined the Creed series (spin-off of Rocky). He has the work ethic and necessary star power to take on a major Marvel franchise. I can already see it.

What do you guys think? Should Marvel bring back Killmonger to become the new (and noble) King of Wakanda? Let me know in the comments below! 🙂

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