Fans are asking for a recast to 'honor' the late actor's legacy.
In December, Marvel Studios announced they wouldn't recast the role of Chadwick Boseman's King T'Challa for the upcoming sequel out of respect for Boseman's memory. Now, Black Panther fans are asking the studio to do the opposite to "honor" the late actor's heroic legacy.
Film reviewer Emmanuel "E-Man" Noisette has spearheaded a campaign petitioning for Kevin Feige, Louis D'Esposito and Ryan Coogler to "reconsider their decision, and recast the role of 'T'Challa' in the Black Panther franchise." In a video posted to explain his position, Noisette explains that he believes the decision not to feature T'Challa in Black Panther 2 means the studio could remove the character from the MCU entirely, specifically by killing him off.
"If Marvel Studios removes T'Challa, it would be at the expense of the audiences (especially Black boys and men) who saw themselves in him," the petition states. "That also includes the millions of fans who were inspired by the character as well. By not recasting, it could stifle the opportunity for one of the most popular, leading Black superheroes to add on to their legacy. The #1 way to kill a legend, is to stop telling their story."
Boseman, who first appeared as T'Challa in Captain America: Civil War, died in August 2020, at the age of 43, following a four-year battle with colon cancer. Disney announced they wouldn't recast or digitally recreate T'Challa in Black Panther 2 but made no mention of what would happen in future projects. Since the mantle of Black Panther can be taken on by whoever is deemed the protector of Wakanda, another character could still end up becoming the Black Panther.
The petition doesn't object to that possibility, noting that the call to action isn't necessarily for the mantle to never be passed on. "This petition is merely asking to continue the portrayal of T'Challa in the MCU. #RecastTChalla is a call to fulfill the role that Chadwick Boseman worked so hard for the world to see," it says. "T'Challa's character was only scratching the surface with his story in the MCU, and there is so much more left to tell."
Although filming on Black Panther 2 hasn't begun, the cast and crew have spoken about their plans for the sequel. "I know Chad wouldn't have wanted us to stop," director Ryan Coogler recently told The Hollywood Reporter. "He was somebody who was so about the collective. Black Panther, that was his movie. He was hired to play that role before anybody else was even thought of, before I was hired, before any of the actresses were hired."
In January, Angela Bassett -- who plays Queen Ramonda and T'Challa's mother -- told ET that everyone involved in the sequel "has to do a major pivot and they are still working on that now because none of us knew anything."
"It's a tremendous loss but Kevin [Feige] and the Marvel universe and Ryan, the director, the writer from before, they are committed to telling [a story] and equally as much as we can, equally planned. So we are looking forward to that. Looking forward to what they come up with," she said. "[Chadwick's] legacy, his loss, the love and appreciation that we have for who he was and what he shared with us cannot be [replaced]… It is missed and appreciated and cannot be duplicated. It's a tremendous honor and, yes, he is completely irreplaceable."
Black Panther 2 is scheduled for release on July 8, 2022. At the time of publication, the Change.org petition has earned over 22,000 signatures.