On August 28, 2020, Chadwick Boseman tragically passed away after a four year battle with cancer. While his death is still being mourned, already people are wondering what Disney will do with the Black Panther franchise moving forward. Given that Disney and Marvel are businesses with plans related to the franchise, let’s take a look at the most recent rumors and whether or not they’re true.
Wakanda Will Be Built at a Disney Park
This rumor comes from Whoopi Goldberg calling for Disney Parks to build a Wakanda area at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Unfortunately for Whoopi Goldberg, that’s extraordinarily unlikely at this point.
First, let’s deal with the most apparent block in the way for Disney building Wakanda: Universal Studios Florida. Black Panther is featured at the Comcast-owned theme park, albeit in a very minor role, and therefore is contractually licensed exclusively to Comcast for theme park rights east of the Mississippi River in the United States. And while Disney could actually build a Wakanda area at Walt Disney World if they removed every possible reference to Black Panther and King T’Challa… it’s difficult to see that happening.
Second, a less obvious reason for Wakanda not being built in Disneyland is simply real estate. Unlike Galaxy’s Edge, which used up the final major expansion area in Disneyland, Wakanda would not have any significant acreage that it could be built upon. Estimates are that even if it was added to the current Marvel expansion at California Adventure, the most land that could be provided to Wakanda would be about two acres.
Third… even if Disney chose to plop Wakanda down in a tiny two acre area in Anaheim, it wouldn’t be something that could be translated into a Disney World expansion. Likewise, any significant development at Disney World could not be squeezed into Disneyland’s area. That lack of synergy between the parks would mean that a potential expansion would be limited to a single park, and the cost efficiency for designing such a one-shot development is far less than Disney usually wants.
And the fourth and final reason: $$$. In a pre-pandemic world, maybe Disney could have pressured Comcast into renegotiating the contract. Maybe Disney could have spent enormous money to resolve some of these difficult problems. But in today’s climate, there is almost no way Disney would spent large sums on a new development… even though Wakanda would potentially be a much more popular expansion than Galaxy’s Edge as it was conceived.
Black Panther Will Be Recast
Sources familiar with the thinking of Kevin Feige express that the chances of Marvel recasting King T’Challa within the current MCU is slightly less than 0%. It isn’t going to happen, period. But the Black Panther mantel might be given to a new character, and thus a new actor. This seems to be the most likely path forward in the movie, Black Panther 2, currently being directed by Ryan Coogler. However, the script for the movie has not yet been completed, and the diagnosis and subsequent death of Boseman caught Coogler completely by surprise.
Essentially, the script for Black Panther 2 is now gone with the passing of its lead actor. A new script will have to be written, time likely needs to happen between now and the starting of that script to absorb the loss, and Black Panther 2 may not even be titled Black Panther 2 anymore. Whereas Boseman’s terminal illness would have been difficult to hide in normal circumstances, literally nobody at Marvel or Disney knew he was dying due to the fog of the pandemic.
Boseman Recorded Film for Black Panther 2
This rumor is completely untrue. While there may be some unused film that can be repurposed for transitional post mortem scenes in the sequel movie, there is nothing on hand that was filmed or recorded specifically for this reason. It will be interesting to see how Marvel handles an off-screen death (assumedly) of their arguably most popular Phase 4 hero. It not only has to satisfy the fantasy world, but provide an appropriate gravitas for the death of a beloved actor. At this point, it’s almost certain that they know how they’re going to handle the situation just as much as you know how they’ll handle it. In other words, nothing is planned out just yet.
It’s uncharted territory for the MCU.
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