In an interview, the director and screenwriter spoke candidly about how much the loss of his friend in August 2020 impacted him. “I was at a point when I was like, ‘I’m walking away from this business,'” Coogler said to Entertainment Weekly. “I didn’t know if I could make another movie period, [let alone] another Black Panther movie, because it hurt a lot. I was like, ‘Man, how could I open myself up to feeling like this again?'”
He took time to reflect on all the moments that he and Boseman shared together while making Black Panther, and focused on the conversations that they had where the actor spoke about just how much the role of T’Challa meant to him and what Wakanda signified for him and Black people. “I was poring over a lot of our conversations that we had, towards what I realized was the end of his life,” Coogler continued. “I decided that it made more sense to keep going.”
That decision led him to dive headlong into the making of Wakanda Forever, and Coogler went forward with creating a new story without T’Challa. For him, recasting the role would’ve taken away from what he wanted to build. “It’s my job as a filmmaker to do things that I have personal integrity with,” Coogler said. “If I don’t believe in what I’m doing, I’m going to have a hard time getting other people to do their best work. For them to do their best work, they have to believe in it. When filmmakers make things that don’t feel truthful to them, you can feel it. And I will argue that those projects don’t have a shot at working.”
It was a decision in line with the viewpoint of Marvel Studios president, Kevin Feige. He addressed the concerns about T’Challa as well as the social media campaign that called for someone else to take up the role. “It just felt like it was much too soon to recast,” Feige said in an interview with Empire Magazine, adding: “The world is still processing the loss of Chad. And Ryan poured that into the story.”
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will debut in theaters Nov. 11.