Inside the Marvelverse: “honoring, not replacing” the legacy of Chadwick Boseman

How will “Wakanda Forever” fill the void left by one of the most influential Black actors to ever take to the big screen?


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“Wakanda Forever” picks up following the death of Chadwick Boseman

Tra'Sean Nichols, Assistant Editor, Arts & Culture

Inside the Marvelverse is a regular column by Arts and Culture Assistant Editor Tra’Sean Nichols, a self-proclaimed Marvel maniac and superhero enthusiast.


I don’t remember what I was doing in August of 2020. The year will forever be connected with a horrible connotation that left us wondering what to do with our lives. I could have simply been in my room, outside with friends or even catching up on sleep that I lost during the school year, but I know I wasn’t prepared for what was to come. On a day like others in the height of what can be argued as America’s most divided time in history, negativity was transpiring around us. As protests took to the streets and rallies swarmed governmental buildings, newspaper writers worked tirelessly to produce their next story. Despite all this, an important symbol that affected Americans and many people was prematurely stolen. 

On August 28, the press websites roared with the announcement that shattered something in many people, and it had to shatter something in me. On August 28, actor Chadwick Boseman died.

I can’t imagine anyone who could fill the space that Boseman had created. Many idolized him; being African American, he symbolized what is possible for many underrepresented people. Entering the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) as the first black superhero in 2014 in the movie “Captain America: Winter Soldier,” he has paved the way for Black representation within the MCU. His role goes beyond what he did in the film and serves as a role model for many people of color worldwide.

A big concern proposed following his death was how to continue his legacy through the movies without him. The long-anticipated sequel to the first “Black Panther” movie, “Wakanda Forever,” seeks to uphold everything Boseman stood for. 

Through the trailer, we can see that Boseman’s death is addressed in the storyline. The Wakadian people are shown wearing white and light shades of gray; from the first movie, we know that white is a color of mourning. Death in Wakada isn’t an unfortunate thing, though. In many African cultures, death is a celebration; it’s seen as a writ of passage, something each of our spirits must do before crossing into the next realm. This concept of the next realm is essential in Wakadan culture. In the first movie, we see after the death of Black Panther’s father in the previous Captain America film that T’Challa still had a connection to not only his father but a long line of family through this realm. 

Although it’s evident that this is not only a time of mourning but a celebration, a unification of the community,  during the trailer, Ramonda, T’Challa’s mother, states the heart-wrenching quote, “I am the Queen of the most, and my entire family is gone…Have I not given everything?”

Through her voice and fantastic acting, we truly see what she is going through as a mother losing her son. 

Further dissecting the passing of Boseman, the music choice tying into the emotional value that his death provided is impactful. Marvel uses a remix of two songs: “Alright” by Kendrick Lamar and “No Woman No Cry” by Bob Marley. It’s an emotionally-complex combination to put in the trailer, and it pulled on every heart string the first time watching. The music paired with the visuals is stunning; my favorite scene being when flames surround Shuri. Director Ryan Coolger, producer Keven Figie and Marvel Studios have outdone themselves with this movie, and the trailer does nothing less than give it the hype and justice it deserves. 

The heavy emotions portrayed through Boseman’s death not only resonated in the film but also in the recording of the movie. The cast list still lists him as number one because the production studio left him as number one on the character scripts. He was number one in his last movie, so keeping him in that spot served meaning for many of the actors; it was a way to record alongside him. 

As Feige told Hollywood Reporter,  “Chadwick needs to be honored, not replaced.

Not replacing the Black Panther character is possibly Marvel’s best decision. Keeping his story and, ultimately, his death established in the storyline (unlike how many speculated) allows not only the characters in the movie to grieve and pay their respects but the audience as well. We will be able to experience the emotional impact of this event alongside the actors and the characters.

Based on how the trailer sets up this movie, I expect a lot of tears. However, in the most recent trailer, Marvel has confirmed that the Black Panther Mantel will be passed down to Shuri, T’Challa’s sister, played by Letitia Wright. The transition from Boseman to Wright is nothing less than challenging, as it dictates what is next for the superhero and the entire MCU.

Movie-wise, as all of this transpires, there is a war between the aqua people, the ​​Atlanteans, and the Wakandans, further stressing the importance of this missing king. Actor-wise, Wright has a lot to fill. Following Boseman, she will have to take up a position to be an inspiration as he once did. I have no doubt that she will be perfect to follow in his footsteps, especially considering the relationship Boseman and Wright once had through the media.

The MCU still has a promising future following the death of Boseman. His death has impacted many people close to him as well as fans of his films. Although he is no longer with us, Marvel still allows his legacy to prosper through the content he started. It is obvious that Boseman will always be a part of this community and that even though we are moving forward, he isn’t left in the past; his memory and values live through the community he created.