Black Panther 2: How Wakanda Forever addresses Chadwick Boseman’s death

In August 2020, the world was rocked by the news that Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman had died.

The actor died of cancer, aged 43, having been diagnosed with the illness four years before.

Boseman decided against making the news public, meaning his death was a surprise to his fans.

He earned acclaim for several credits, but it was as King T’Challa in Ryan Coogler’s 2018 blockbuster that saw Boseman inspire audiences around the world.

After news of the actor’s death broke, Coogler and co-screenwriter Joe Robert Cole had to rework the script for Black Panther’s sequel, titled Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which is out now.

*Spoilers follow – you have been warned*

The film immediately addresses Boseman’s death with an emotional scene showing his character’s sister Shuri (Wright) trying to cure her brother, who we learn is dying from an unspecified illness off-screen.

The end of the opening sequence sees Shuri crying as she learns T’Challa has died, before Marvel’s opening logo, typically featuring characters from across other MCU titles, appears on screen solely dedicated to Boseman.

Chadwick Boseman as King T’Challa in 2018 film ‘Black Panther’ (Marvel Studios)
Chadwick Boseman as King T’Challa in 2018 film ‘Black Panther’ (Marvel Studios)

Wakanda Forever then follows Shuri, her mother Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) and their fellow Wakandans as they try to come to terms with the loss of Boseman’s Black Panther. In The Independent’s four-star review of the sequel, critic Clarisse Loughrey says the actor’s shadow “looms large” over the sequel.

“Everything about this sequel feels subsumed under a great shadow of loss,” L;oughrey writes, adding: “Wakanda Forever isn’t necessarily a film about grief, but every frame is draped in tender sorrow. We first hear the whispered tones of Shuri (Letitia Wright), T’Challa’s sister, as she vows to save her brother from an unspoken and sudden illness. Her inability to do so becomes her burden.

King T’Challa is laid to rest in ‘Black Panther: Wakandas Forever’ (Marvel Studios)
King T’Challa is laid to rest in ‘Black Panther: Wakandas Forever’ (Marvel Studios)

“Others in the film – his mother (Angela Bassett’s Ramonda), his love (Lupita Nyong’o’s Nakia), and his most loyal soldier (Danai Gurira’s Okoye) – carry their own. Grief is multicoloured in Wakanda Forever, processed through spirituality, denial, and rage. But each iteration of it is laced with real pain.”

Speaking to Variety about changing the script following Boseman’s death, Coogler said: “Where we started was this idea of who would be the most affected by his loss. Shuri had never known a day without him. He’d always been there, so she would be the most unmoored by him passing away.”

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is in cinemas now. Find The Independent’s four-star verdict on the film here.