An online petition calling for the recasting of the character of King T’Challa in “Black Panther” following the tragic death of the film’s star, Chadwick Boseman, is asking Marvel Studios to consider the larger impact of moving on from such an iconic character.
In the months since “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman’s tragic August 2020 death, the discussion has turned to how, or if, Marvel will move forward without one of the franchise’s biggest superheroes. Fans are divided over whether recasting the role is the best way to continue Boseman’s legacy, however, a Change.org petition started by YouTube movie reviewer Emannuel “E-Man” Noisette that is in favor of eventually finding a new actor to play T’Challa is gaining traction online.
“This is a call for the President of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige, Co-President Louis D’Esposito, and Writer/Director Ryan Coogler to reconsider their decision, and recast the role of “T’Challa” in the Black Panther franchise,” reads the petition that was started by the content creator on April 5. “If Marvel Studios removes T’Challa, it would be at the expense of the audiences (especially Black boys and men) who saw themselves in him. That also includes the millions of fans who were inspired by the character as well.”
At the time of this article’s writing, more than 25,400 fans had signed the petition in favor of recasting T’Challa for upcoming Marvel films.
The “E-Man’s Movie Reviews” host explained his pro-recast stance and what the petition stands for in more detail via a companion YouTube video, in which he says that the petition is not calling for the role to be filled right away. “Now to be clear,” he states starting at :43, “this petition is not a call to immediately recast the role. I believe that anyone that has been impacted by the passing of Chadwick Boseman deserves the time to heal before we make any definitive decisions with the role.”
Leaving little room for misinterpretation, Noisette also notes that the petition is not addressing the Black Panther mantle, but the specific role of King T’Challa. “I should also mention that this call is not about the mantle of Black Panther. Let me say that again. This has absolutely nothing to do with who will be the next Black Panther or who should wear the mantle of Black Panther,” he said. “This is about allowing the character of T’Challa to continue the same way he has always existed for the 55 years worth of stories in the comics. This is about giving the role of T’Challa the same luxury to add on to his legacy the same way other popular superheroes have done for decades.”
E-Man also encourages audiences to “celebrate and honor” Boseman for his impressive body of work, which includes biopics “42,” “Marshall,” and “Get On Up,” instead of allowing the whole of his career to be enveloped by a single role. “I believe that we should celebrate and honor him for all that he has done, rather than limit his memory only to the role of T’Challa. We can celebrate his life and great works without compromising the role of T’Challa at the same time.”
In January, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige confirmed that there were no plans of recasting the role and hinted that the “Black Panther” sequel will instead delve deeper into the rich cultures and brilliant people of Wakanda, while still paying respect to Boseman’s T’Challa.
“So much of the comics and that first movie is the world of Wakanda. Wakanda is a place to further explore with characters and different subcultures,” he told Deadline. “This was always and initially the primary focus of the next story. We’re not going to have a CG Chadwick and we’re not recasting T’Challa. Ryan Coogler is working very hard right now on the script with all the respect and love and genius that he has, which gives us great solace, so it was always about furthering the mythology and the inspiration of Wakanda. There’s also the task of honoring and respecting the ongoing learnings and teachings from Chad as well.”
“Black Panther 2” is reportedly set to begin filming in Atlanta in July 2021.