Chadwick Boseman’s performance as T’Challa in Marvel’s What If…? originally helped inspire Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Even now, almost a year later, the world is still keenly feeling Boseman’s loss. The actor passed away at age 43 last August after a battle with colon cancer, and the news came as a shock to many, including those who worked with him in the MCU. Boseman was set to reprise his role as T’Challa in next year’s Black Panther 2; the movie has since been restructured to act as a tribute to him in many ways, though plot details are still being kept under wraps.
Luckily for the fans, there’s one bit of Boseman’s performance still to come. Boseman lent his voice to multiple episodes of What If…?, the Disney+ animated series that premiered just last week. Following the creation of the multiverse at the end of Loki season 1, each episode of What If…? explores a different alternate reality within the MCU. Boseman’s first episode arrives this week and sees him step into the role of the Guardians of the Galaxy’s Star-Lord.
Monday night was the premiere of Marvel Studios’ latest big screen effort, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Producer Kevin Feige stopped to talk to Variety on the red carpet and spoke about Boseman’s highly-anticipated voice role in What If…?. According to Feige, Boseman enjoyed the show’s version of T’Challa so much, he wanted to implement it in Black Panther 2. Feige said:
“Somebody’s probably spoken about this already, but he came in, he read the episode that airs whenever it is, 24 hours from now, and then came back and said, ‘I really love this version of T’Challa.’ And we had a conversation after that with Ryan [Coogler, director of Black Panther 2] about how do we get some of this voice – none of the storyline – but just some of that voice into Panther 2. And now, of course, it is remarkably sad and bittersweet, but I’m very happy we have it, I’m very happy he did it for us, and I’m excited for the fans to see it as well.”
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever writer-director Ryan Coogler has a difficult task ahead of him, and many are curious to see what the movie will look like without Boseman’s presence. Little is known about Black Panther 2 so far, save for that it will include several returning players from the first movie, such as Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Winston Duke, and Angela Bassett. A video from the set of Black Panther 2 hinted that T’Challa has passed away by the time the movie begins, as the Wakandan throne room bears new inscriptions that reference his legacy.
The knowledge that fans won’t get to see Boseman in the movie is still difficult to process, which is why there’s so much anticipation surrounding his role in What If…?. As Feige said, Boseman liked playing this new version of T’Challa and wanted to bring part of him to Black Panther 2. While it is far from the same as seeing him on screen, at least audiences can listen to Boseman in What If…? and get a glimpse of what Boseman had in store for the Marvel sequel. It already sounds like it would have been very special.
What If…? releases new episodes Wednesdays on Disney+.