Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hit the theaters in November. However, the future of the character was unsure after the heartbreaking, untimely demise of Chadwick Boseman, the actor who portrayed the Black Panther. Instead of recasting, the producers decided to lay King T’Challa to rest. So, how did Black Panther die in the MCU?
King T’Challa, aka Black Panther, has died before the events of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, or at the very beginning, du to an illness. It wan’t explicitly stated what illness it was, although rumors suggest the character died due to cancer to honor Boseman in the most beautiful way.
We certainly learn more about T’Challa’s passing in the film, and there are some crucial details about the future of Wakanda – and the Black Panther mantle – that the film reveals. Let’s dig in to find out everything there is to know about how Black Panther died, who’s taking his place, and much more.
How did Chadwick Boseman die?
For those who don’t know or don’t remember, I want to briefly touch upon how Chadwick Boseman passed away, as his passing is the only reason why the scripts and the future of Black Panther needed to be changed.
The talented actor portrayed King T’Challa, aka Black Panther, throughout the MCU so far. However, hardly anyone knew what was going on behind closed doors. Despite Chadwick’s upbeat nature and optimistic personality, he was actually battling colon cancer for quite a long time.
It resulted in Boseman losing a lot of weight and ultimately passing away on August 28, 2020. It was a huge shocker for the entire world, including the Marvel Studios producers, as Boseman hadn’t disclosed his illness to many people; only his nearest and dearest. The future of Chadwick’s character, Black Panther, was in question.
The initial thought was that T’Challa would simply be recast, giving another actor the opportunity to continue the epic legacy that Boseman left behind. However, Kevin Feige and the producers made the unexpected choice – but absolutely the right choice – not to recast the character at all.
They believed what Boseman did with the character transcends any version of Black Panther presented so far in the comics or other media. Hence, they decided to put T’Challa to rest as well. Well, at least King T’Challa, but let’s not spoil the little details!
How did Black Panther die in the MCU?
The choice has been made not to recast King T’Challa. However, it was still unclear how the story would continue – where did T’Challa go? What will the future of Wakanda look like? Well, as it turns out, the very first scenes of the movie revealed that King T’Challa passed away, as did the actor portraying him.
In the opening scenes, we see Shuri talk to her AI, GRIOT, and struggle trying to produce a synthetic cure for somebody. Moments later, we learn that it’s for T’Challa, who is in critical condition. As Shuri keeps trying and checking her brother’s heart rate, she fails to create the synthetic herb. At that moment, Queen Ramonda enters the lab, sharing that T’Challa is ‘with his ancestors.’
We know that the blip made T’Challa disappear for five years, but then he returned for Avengers: Endgame. So now, we know for certain that Black Panther passed away at the very beginning of the new Black Panther movie. After the blip and his return after five years, T’Challa suffered from an undisclosed illness.
He didn’t tell anybody, but as Shuri said, he ‘suffered in silence,’ much like Boseman did with his illness. When T’Challa finally asked Shuri for help, it was too late – she couldn’t help him.
There were rumors that Namor – the main villain of the movie – would be responsible for Black Panther’s demise, but it never happened. Black Panther did not die in battle at all. Namor did, however, kill (SPOILER ALERT) Queen Ramonda, which led to Shuri wanting vengeance.
The writers chose to honor Boseman and T’Challa in the best way possible. King T’Challa passed away due to illness, similar to Chadwick in real life.
It’s also a beautiful way to show that not all heroes need to have an “honorable death” in the midst of battle. It shows that superheroes are people, too, affected by common problems, and even they can succumb to illness. I’m heartbroken even writing this, but if you ask me, this is by far the best course of action the writers and producers could do with T’Challa’s character.
That being said, it leaves one question open and unanswered: who will be the next Black Panther?
What will happen to Black Panther now that Kind T’Challa is gone?
T’Challa is gone, but the Black Panther mantle will never disappear. The only question is, who will become the next Black Panther?
Rumors were swirling all around; it’ll be M’Baku, the guy who T’Challa fought and then befriended. Then, people thought it’ll be Nakia, T’Challa’s biggest love. Some folks even suggested the film will resurrect the Killmonger to become the next Black Panther, simply because people adored Michael B. Jordan’s character so much.
All that has been put to rest, however, as the movie showed that the next Black Panther would be Shuri – T’Challa’s sister. After Queen Ramonda dies saving Riri Williams at the hands of Namor, Shuri is left the only person from her family alive. She has lost so many, and wants vengeance.
She uses the bracelet given to her by Namor containing fibers from a plant that made the Talocan who they are. Shuri uses the fibers and T’Challa’s DNA to synthetically recreate the Heart-Shaped Herb. It goes her way, finally, and she gains the powers of the Black Panther.
Interestingly, in the Ancestral Plain, she doesn’t see her father, brother, or mother – she sees Killmonger. They share one thing – they both want vengeance. In the end, Shuri realizes the anger consumed her, and chooses a peaceful resolution, as T’Challa would.
I think that Shuri being the new Black Panther, is the best thing that happened in this movie. T’Challa shared a wonderful bond with his sister, and her continuing his legacy after his untimely demise is an incredible way to continue the story.
To add to it, the same thing happened in the comics. After T’Challa passed, Shuri became the Black Panther, so it would certainly appease the comic book purists as well.
Finally, the mid-credits scene proved that T’Challa, or his legacy, truly didn’t end with his death. I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen the film, but it was a highly emotional moment for the fans.