Black Panther: Wakanda Forever co-writer Joe Robert Cole addresses whether the film was ever going to feature a CGI recreation of Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa. After the huge success of 2018’s Black Panther, director Ryan Coogler returned to helm the sequel, which chronicles the fallout from King T’Challa’s death and the emergence of a new global threat. The film has earned generally positive reviews from audiences and critics alike, with particular praise levied at Angela Bassett and Letitia Wright’s performances in addition to the film’s thoughtful handling of Boseman’s tragic passing. The MCU actor passed away in 2020 after a battle with cancer, with Coogler and Marvel opting not to recast the character for the sequel.
Since it was confirmed that Marvel was not going to recast T’Challa in the Black Panther sequel, some fans wondered if the character would be brought back in some form using CGI. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, however, co-writer Cole reveals that digitally recreating T’Challa for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was never even a possibility that was discussed behind the scenes. Check out
There’s a long history of late actors being brought back digitally for movies, including Oliver Reed in Gladiator, Paul Walker in Furious 7, and Harold Ramis in Ghostbusters: Afterlife. All of these actor recreations are handled in different ways under different circumstances, but in the Black Panther sequel, T’Challa’s death is woven into the very fabric of the movie. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s story was substantially reworked after Boseman’s death and was essentially built and marketed around the premise that it would honor his legacy by honoring T’Challa’s within the world of the MCU. With T’Challa gone, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever focuses instead on how Shuri (Wright) and Ramonda (Bassett) process their grief.
If Black Panther: Wakanda Forever had brought T’Challa back through the use of CGI, it could have undermined the power of Shuri’s character arc as she takes up the mantle of Black Panther. The most logical place to feature a digital T’Challa would be when Shuri visits the Ancestral Plane upon ingesting the heart-shaped herb. The film instead features Shuri encountering Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger, which speaks to the anger she feels and her lust for revenge. Shuri’s climactic moment as Black Panther in the film’s finale is choosing not to channel her grief into anger and revenge, but to seek peace with Namor (Tenoch Huerta) and fully embrace her feelings at the loss of her brother.
While bringing T’Challa back using CGI would have likely resulted in a brief moment of catharsis for audiences, a digital cameo may have taken away from Shuri’s arc, which honors Boseman and his character in more satisfying, long-lasting ways. By not recreating him digitally, the film also solidifies that he is truly gone, giving the character a true sense of finality. The sequel may not bring Boseman’s character back with CGI, but Black Panther: Wakanda Forever does introduce T’Challa’s son, Toussaint, which will hopefully allow the actor and the character to live on in a more uplifting and emotionally resonant way.