In a new interview with Empire magazine, Feige expressed his feelings over passing the role onto someone else in light of Chadwick Boseman’s passing back in 2020. He explained that because the world was still dealing with the loss of Boseman, the next chapter for Black Panther needed to be centered around that and Boseman’s legacy could continue within the film.
“It just felt like it was much too soon to recast,” Feige explained. “Stan Lee always said that Marvel represents the world outside your window. And we had talked about how, as extraordinary and fantastical as our characters and stories are, there’s a relatable and human element to everything we do. The world is still processing the loss of Chad. And Ryan poured that into the story.”
He continued, “The conversations were entirely about, yes, ‘What do we do next?’ And how could the legacy of Chadwick—and what he had done to help Wakanda and the Black Panther become these incredible, aspirational, iconic ideas—continue? That’s what it was all about.”
Director Ryan Coogler and costar Lupita Nyong’o expressed similar feelings of apprehensiveness when it came to moving forward with the project.
When approached with the question of what the plan was to do just that, Coogler explained to Empire:
“Unfortunately, that question became more and more relevant. Both for humanity as a whole, but also for the people in our production who were coming back for this one. It became super-relevant when we lost our bro. Maturity is about being faced with impossible questions, and still making a choice and moving forward.
This unique group is more like a band than it is a group of actors, and Chad was our lead singer. So for me, it was like, ‘How do I figure out a song that they can still get up there and sing, in light of what we were dealing with?”
For Nyong’o, she revealed that Coogler shared his initial vision for the highly anticipated film with Boseman’s T’Challa in mind and that she was on board—but after his passing, she became unsure.
“I didn’t have doubts—I had dread,” Nyong’o said. “Ryan had walked me through what the film was going to be when Chadwick was still alive. And so once we lost him, the thought that we could go on, it was just unfathomable to me. [But] what Ryan ended up sharing with me was just so utterly truthful and beautiful. By the end of it, I was in tears.”
Awwww damn, Lupita. I already knew from the trailer we’d probably be crying in the theater but you just solidified it. Let me hurry up and get my tissues ready.