Just like its actor, the Black Panther has left the realms of earth. But what did King T’Challa die of in the Marvel franchise?
– Attention: Spoilers for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” follow! –
From a purely analytical point of view, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is currently making extremely positive news. The last Marvel film of the year and the last theatrical contribution in phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) broke the best theatrical release in the month of November in the USA, is also a complete success in Germany and is enjoying positive reactions and reviews. But of course the work is overshadowed by the tragic death of Chadwick Boseman.
The Hollywood star passed away on August 28, 2020 from colon cancer. He suffered from the disease for years, but kept it a secret from practically everyone and continued to make films. The shock was correspondingly great for a number of Marvel participants, who also knew nothing about Boseman’s cancer and were completely surprised by the death notice published by his family.
The question was appropriately how the MCU would deal with the death of the cast member with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Those responsible quickly made it clear that they would not be recasting T’Challa aka Black Panther, so it was clear that the Marvel hero would also bless the time. Certainly fans were curious to know what would cause T’Challa to die in the MCU, but Black Panther: Wakanda Forever doesn’t have a specific answer for good reason, but it does reflect the death of Chadwick Boseman in a number of important ways.
T’Challa’s mysterious illness
Even before the Marvel Studios logo flickers across the screens, the first scene confronts us head-on with the grisly reality and may have roused the shock of Boseman’s passing for some. Because we see Shuri (Letitia Wright) fighting in the laboratory for the life of her dying brother. However, her attempt to artificially create the purple herb that gives the Black Panther superhuman powers and use it to save T’Challa is not completed in time, which is why the new queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) has to inform her daughter that her other child is now in the afterlife with his ancestors.
Exactly from which disease T’Challa died is not revealed in the course of the film and we can expect that those responsible for the MCU will not answer this exactly in the future either. Apparently it was considered more tactful to remain silent about the circumstances of T’Challa’s death. All we know is that it was an illness that he had been suffering from in secret for some time and didn’t tell his family about it until it was practically too late – much like Boseman’s.
It also appeared to be a disease that not even Wakanda’s advanced technology could do anything about. So you can speculate that it’s also cancer, because if humanity could cure cancer in the MCU thanks to the medicine of the fictional African country, that would surely be such an important change that it would have been discussed somewhere before. Especially since we also know that Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) passed away from cancer in the MCU in 2020, four years after Wakanda decided to share his accomplishments with the world. Someone in Maria Rambeau’s position would certainly have been able to seek appropriate cancer treatment if it had existed.
Fans can at least take the credits scene as a small consolation. It is finally revealed that T’Challa and Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) have a son together, who is commonly called Toussaint, but whose Wakandi name is T’Challa and who refers to himself as the Prince of Wakanda. It is doubtful that he will eventually intervene in the succession to the country’s throne, because of his age that would only be relevant in a good ten years and who knows what the MCU 2032 will look like (and whether the franchise will still exist then); as long as we don’t expect a corresponding time jump á la “Avengers: Endgame” at some point. So T’Challa Jr.’s appearance was arguably more of an emotional nod, suggesting that the Marvel hero’s spirit lives on in the MCU – as certainly does Chadwick Boseman, whose legacy will surely stay with his co-stars for a long time to come.
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