Warning: this article contains spoilers for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Ryan Coogler has revealed his original plan for the Phase 4 Black Panther: Wakanda Forever movie before Chadwick Boseman’s tragic passing in 2020. After the massive success of 2018’s Black Panther, Coogler entered into talks immediately for a second installment, which would receive large changes after Boseman passed away. The reworked Wakanda Forever hit theaters on November 11, 2022, giving a larger role to Letitia Wright as Shuri, and finally introducing Namor, portrayed by Tenoch Huerta, to the MCU. However, the original plan would have been the perfect story for the franchise in the wake of Avengers: Endgame.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever dealt directly with Wakanda’s grief over the loss of their King, causing Ramonda (Angela Bassett) to assume the throne, and Shuri to bury herself in her technological advancements. Coogler’s original plan for Wakanda Forever would have also explored grief, but T’Challa’s grief over lost time, since he was one of a multitude of characters who disappeared for five years after Thanos’ snap in Avengers: Infinity War. While Wakanda Forever is certainly one of the strongest Phase 4 projects, the original story could have investigated the effects of “the Blip” like no other MCU project has done.
Wakanda Forever’s Original Plan Explained
During an interview with Inverse, Coogler confirmed “the tonal shift, I will say, was less of a shift than in [casting],” proving that themes of grief and loss were to be explored in both the original plan for Wakanda Forever, and the released film. However, the original story would have been a more personal, grounded exploration of grief, told from the perspective of Boseman’s T’Challa after returning to fight the battle against Thanos at the climax of Avengers: Endgame. The original draft would have seen T’Challa struggling to resume a normal life after losing so much time during the Blip, with one very important factor that would have informed this.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever included the surprise introduction of Divine Love Konadu-Sun as Toussaint, a.k.a. Prince T’Challa, the former King’s secret son with Wakandan War Dog Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o). Though the timeline is unclear, it’s likely that Toussaint was born not long after the Blip, meaning he spent most of his childhood without his father, which would have made the original story for Wakanda Forever so much more devastating. The film could have brought together T’Challa and his young son for the first time, and dealt with the former’s grief over losing so much time with his child. This storyline would have fit perfectly in the MCU’s Phase 4 slate.
The Original Plan For Wakanda Forever Could Have Been The Strongest Phase 4 Story
The events of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame were certainly world-changing for the MCU, but it seemed as though most of the Phase 4 projects all but ignored the fact that billions of people had disappeared for five years. Some projects, such as Eternals, WandaVision, and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, did deal with some of the after-effects of the Blip, but the massive event was never a primary focus. The original plan for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever could have rectified this and explored specifically the full extent of the damage caused by Thanos snapping his fingers.
Phase 4 of the MCU was full of action-packed adventures, sometimes to the disappointment of MCU fans who longed for more grounded stories, such as with the hugely divisive Thor: Love & Thunder. Coogler’s original script for Wakanda Forever would have been a much more personal account of grief in the wake of Endgame, delivering the Phase 4 story that many had been yearning for, and would have had far more impact with the debut of Toussaint. T’Challa himself has dealt with the effects of having a father who was often absent and wasn’t always there for him, so this would have been a tragic mirroring of his own upbringing.
How Can Wakanda Forever’s Original Story Still Be Told In The MCU?
Though the story of T’Challa’s grief over lost time might never get told, Marvel Studios can incorporate the elements of that story into another big MCU character, namely Scott Lang, a.k.a. Ant-Man (Paul Rudd). Avengers: Endgame featured Scott returning from five years trapped in the Quantum Realm to find his child daughter, Cassie, grown up into a teenager, meaning he missed out of five years of his daughter’s life, which reflects the story that would have been told in the original plan for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Scott and Cassie were always shown to have a strong bond, so the idea of grief over lost time can be shown beautifully here.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania will be the first time audiences see Scott and Cassie, now portrayed by Kathryn Newton, on screen together since Endgame, and will also feature Cassie suiting up as Stature. It seems that Cassie will have changed significantly from when Scott last saw her, which will certainly be a huge adjustment for the character’s arc, perhaps taking many aspects of what would have been T’Challa’s story with Toussaint. This means that, while Chadwick Boseman didn’t get the chance to bring T’Challa’s tragic post-Endgame story to life, his legacy can carry on after Black Panther: Wakanda Forever inside other MCU characters.
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