Throughout the vast Marvel Cinematic Universe, we have experienced diverse heroes with unique perspectives and characteristics. What all these heroes have in common are certain qualities and principles that define them and make them the heroes they are.
A courageous leader willing to self-sacrifice for the greater good, a bastion of hope with inspiring values and integrity, and more often than not, a motivating and empathetic but mysterious origin story. All these qualities, and many more, are synonymous with Black Panther, also known as King T’Challa.
When introduced to us in Civil War, Black Panther was a character driven by vengeance and sought after ‘The Winter Soldier’ in hopes of revenge. The true T’Challa was finally introduced to us in 2018’s Black Panther, one that wasn’t solely driven by revenge. We see King T’Challa as a noble, straight-laced leader, unwaveringly loyal to his cause and nation. When called upon to be the leader and king Wakanda needed, he answered appropriately, as evidenced when he exclaimed to Zuri, “I am your king now!”. He also displayed his quiet strength when he told M’Baku his people needed him during the first waterfall fight. Besides this, we also see his playful and empathetic nature via his interactions with Shuri, Nakia, and Okoye. Lastly, the various battles powerfully showcase his resolve, resilience, and tenacity, all of which greatly supplement T’Challa’s qualities of a great leader and a hero.
Chadwick Boseman was a fantastic choice for the casting of Black Panther. Initially, he auditioned for the role of Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy, but we can all thank the way fate pulled its strings and gave us the fantastic Black Panther we’ve known to love and appreciate.
From a Marvel Cinematic Universe standpoint, he deserves our praise and admiration for his role in successfully taking the relatively obscure T’Challa character and making him a cultural icon on the level of Thor, Captain America, etc., in the eyes of a broad audience. It’s rare to see a strong black male superhero breakthrough like this; with Chadwick’s help, they accomplished it. It’s important to celebrate and embrace the fact that Chadwick laid the foundation for T’Challa, and took his character through a journey that was nothing short of inspiring and heart-touching.
Wakanda Forever: Black Panther
The sequel introduces our favourite characters from the first movie and gives each of them powerful traits which complement their innate beauty. Wakanda, mourning the death of their king, makes our eyes watery and our hearts full of nostalgia when looking at the visuals in the background on the walls of Wakanda. The lifting up of the coffin fills our hearts to the brink with love and grief for our hero. The Queen tries to accept the reality, and Shuri simultaneously avoids feeling the void of her brother’s absence by being in the lab. When Namor emerged from the water, a new danger emerged because the name says it all (no love for the surface), which is seen throughout the film through his actions. A pillar of strength, T’Challa was missing when Wakanda was under attack by Namor’s army and could have saved the Queen. The attack brought the nation to its feet and gave a feeling of hopelessness. Filled with anger and pain, Shuri drinks the herb in the lab and visits the ancestral plane. However, the events there were exciting and unexpected, to say the least, meeting Killmonger instead of T’Challa, which stunned the audience. This suggests that Shuri shares a similar mindset as him, driven by vengeance.
Towards the end of the movie, during the engaging fight, Shuri takes a step back, doesn’t kill Namor, and makes peace for a prosperous future. This portrays that her brother still lives within her subconsciously, and she has morals in her blood like her brother T’challa. With the burning of the ritual clothes, letting go of grief, and accepting the unfortunate deaths in the family. The audience felt the absence of our hero, a feeling of emptiness. Shuri’s actions reminded her of him, and he still lives, not in reality but in our hearts, and leaves an unforgettable impact on the fans and people he worked with.
In an interview, Winston Duke, the actor M’Baku, expressed that it was challenging to work on the sequel. Further on hearing the news of Chadwick passing away, he was shocked because of how he knew him to be. He added “As the cast and crew members dealt with that loss while filming the sequel, they were given the time to grieve whenever they needed”. He also mentioned that he felt secondary walking into the set again while the world was still amidst the pandemic. All while, the movie and franchise aspire to be the same, it was indeed a great task for Marvel to work on the latest edition which Marvel has graciously overcome. Marvel has gifted us with a multitude of characters, and heroes that opened doors to a whole new world of stories and endless realms creating a special place in our hearts. Storytelling through Chadwick Boseman is one of the greatest masterpieces MCU could give us and is both memorable and historical. Mourning the loss of Chadwick Boseman, we look forward to the highly skilled script writers at Marvel to continue the Black Panther Legacy for eons to come.
Written by Soham Sadhukan and Mayuri Sapre for MTTN
Edited by Advaith Gurunath for MTTN
Featured Image by Balasubramanian for MTTN