Chadwick Boseman always told us Black Panther was bigger than him

Chadwick's brother wants T'Challa recast — for his brother's legacy as well as the next generation of Black kids.

Actor Chadwick Boseman gives a Wakanda salute to the crowd as Howard Univer...
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Chadwick Boseman will live forever, and T’Challa should as well. Boseman’s brother Derrick Boseman recently came out in support of recasting his late brother’s role as T’Challa in Black Panther because he believes his brother knew Black Panther to young Black kids was a role model more than simply a role.

Chadwick’s older brother recently spoke with TMZ about the role of T’Challa being recast in future Black Panther films, supporting the move to preserve a role model for impressionable Black kids. TMZ reported Derrick intimated that the influence of Black Panther would give young Black kids a positive alternative to hip-hop’s glorification of all that’s wrong in society. While TMZ doesn’t say if Derrick believes Chadwick had the same disparaging view of hip-hop, the site does report Derrick wholeheartedly believes his late younger brother always felt the role of T’Challa didn’t belong to him; it belonged to the people it inspired.

While alive, Boseman seldom passed up an opportunity to extol the impact his character had on young Black kids. During a February 2018 interview on SiriusXM with some of his Black Panther castmates weeks before the film hit theaters, Boseman spoke about keeping in touch with two children named Ian and Taylor while filming. Both kids were terminally ill with cancer and passed away before the film’s release. Boseman emotionally recollects their parents telling him “they’re trying to hold on until this movie comes.” His understanding of the film’s impact on children extended beyond tears and words as he made it a point to go back to his hometown of Anderson, South Carolina to personally buy tickets to the film for 312 underprivileged children.

It’s his upbringing as a child in Anderson, South Carolina that emboldened his belief in the cultural importance of Black Panther. Speaking with MrPorter in February 2018, the Academy Award-nominated actor remembered the racism of Confederate flags flying and little white boys spewing the N-word out their mouths with no impunity. He remembered how suffocating the racism was, telling the publication “I know what it’s like to be a kid at an ice cream shop when some little white kid calls you ‘nigger,’ but your parents tell you to calm down because they know it could blow up.” While shooting Black Panther in Atlanta and visiting South Carolina during his off days, he’d still see Klan rallies, but now he knew he was part of the change.

“People don’t want to experience change, they just want to wake up and it’s different. But this — shooting Black Panther and then driving past the Klan — that’s what change feels like.”

The impetus for Derrick’s public support for his brother’s role to be recast is likely recent comments from Marvel’s VP of Development Nate Moore on The Ringer-verse Podcast where he stated T’Challa would no longer be in the Marvel Cinematic Universe because “we all feel so much of T’Challa in the MCU on the screen…is tied to Chadwick’s performance.” Derrick disagreed and told TMZ Marvel killing off his brother’s character would deprive young Black kids of a superhero role model. There are plenty of others who also disagree with Marvel and Moore. In April, film critic Emmanuel Noisette of E-Man’s Movie Reviews launched a petition asking for Boseman to be honored by T’Challa being recast. In eight months, the petition has garnered nearly 45,000 signatures and spawned the viral movement #RecastTChalla.

Boseman’s Black Panther co-star Letitia Wright, who portrays T’Challa’s sister Shuri, has emerged as a fan favorite to take the mantle of T’Challa, mirroring a storyline from the comics. Unfortunately, her reported unvaccinated status could preclude her transition into T’Challa and work on future Marvel films. Still, it’s clear from the stories of upliftment, joy, and pride of Black children which Black parents have attributed to Black Panther, T’Challa needs to live on. And Boseman would’ve wanted it that way.