Actor Chadwick Boseman, best known for his portrayal of African superhero ‘Black Panther’ in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movie franchise, died at the age of 43 on Friday.
Boseman was pronounced dead Friday night after a four year battle with colon cancer, which he had not publicly spoken about – likely fearing repercussions in casting for big-budget film franchises. He died at his home, with his wife and extended family by his side.
Cosmic Books News previously reported that Boseman was “pretty unhappy” with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige’s vision for the Black Panther series, following the decision to transition out his character, T’Challa, and replace him with a new female superhero that will take the mantle of Black Panther.
Actress Letitia Wright was set to replace Boseman as the iconic Afrocentric hero over the course of the next Black Panther and Avengers movies. Unsurprisingly, however, Boseman was disappointed at the outcome, with Cosmic Books News reporting that Boseman “feels like he is being sidelined and he doesn’t want Black Panther taken away from him”.
Wright currently plays Shuri in the MCU, T’Challa’s sister. Shuri was portrayed throughout the movies as far smarter than T’Challa and even genius superhero Iron Man. She was credited with the design of the cybernetic Black Panther suit, despite the fact that women are virtually absent from the cybernetics development field in the real world.
In 2018, Black Panther producer Nate Moore affirmed that Marvel had long planned for Boseman’s replacement as Black Panther by an even more ‘diverse’ character.
“The Black Panther is a mantle as much as it is a person, so we’re not restricted by anything, because the truth is, there’s a lot of different ways to go back to Wakanda and have a good time and continue to explore the themes that made the first film so resonant,” Moore said.
The decision to recast Black Panther as a woman follows a wave of recent feminist decisions by Marvel.
An all-female superhero movie titled A-Force is said to be in development, while classic Marvel characters such as Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk are to be replaced by female characters Ironheart and She-Hulk respectively in new TV shows, as the originals are phased out of the film franchise.