It was three years ago this week that I saw Black Panther on Opening Night. I saw it with my second husband, and sat in the push AMC seat with him and was transported to Wakanda for the very first time. There was magic seeing Chadwick Boseman on screen as T’Challa–I had never seen a Black superhero on screen before! I had seen Blade of course, and Wesley Snipes owned all pieces of that role! But this, this was different. It had an ancestral feel, and during the middle of the movie, I almost cried. At the end of the movie after hearing young Black men discussing fan Marvel Comics fan theory? I threw my arms around them! It was glorious. Simply glorious.
One of the last things we did as a family was take my daughters to see this movie. The complete delight on their faces as they watched, I cannot quite describe. It indeed was a cultural moment worthy of all hype and celebration!
Then, Chadwick Boseman died.
This is after telling my daughter after she was so distraught after watching The Avengers: Infinity War, “No one dies in the Marvel Universe.” I told her that to dry her tears, only to have her collapse in my bed almost three years later, knowing that the actor who brought him to life is dead. How do you reconcile that?
As a mother, I need what to say to make her okay. As an artist, I am still grieving. When this reminder came through my memories, I was taken back to Opening Night. I remember getting ready to music, thinking about my outfit, and even what earrings to wear. I wanted to be pretty and pretty effing hot. What strikes me now are the hidden conversations: recasting, the sequels, plans going forward. In the comics, Princess Shuri takes the mantle of Black Panther. There was even talk of Black Panther (T’Challa) should not be recast. And I won’t lie to you, I was on that same bandwagon! I wanted the role to stay sacrosanct! Don’t cast anyone else as T’Challa! Then, I ventured into one of my Blerd groups. Those hidden converasations ceased to be whispers, and I realized how silly (and selfish) I was being:
“But, there have been how many actors who have been Batman? Superman? How many have been Spider-Man?”The Extraordinary Journey of a Black Nerd Group
When I sat and thought about it, and thought about it as a writer? The creator of that post and those commenting on it were right. The best way we honor Chadwick is to make sure the character doesn’t die with him. Chadwick is immortal and integral to the MCU, and with still so much left to do–but he left us so much.
The little girl in me is grieving, but the writer in me is elated. I want to see what more can come from these characters! I want to see what Ryan Coogler or even Nia DaCosta come up with as possible directors for these new movies! I want to see what the writers, storyboard artists, CGI teams come up with. I want to see what happens next. As the old hymn goes, “I feel like going on.” I want to see what happens next–I must see what happens next. My hope is the staff and all teams involved will honor the source material, current standards and push past all doubt and give us he sequel we all need! I for one, cannot wait.