Just like its actor, Black Panther has left the earthly realms. But how did King T’Challa die of in the Marvel franchise Black Panther 2?
With a purely analytical view, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is currently providing extremely positive news. The last Marvel film of the year and the final theatrical entry in Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) broke the best theatrical release in the month of November in the U.S., and is enjoying positive reactions and reviews. But of course, the work is overshadowed by the tragic death of Chadwick Boseman.
The Hollywood star died of colon cancer on August 28, 2020. He suffered from the disease for years, but kept it a secret from practically everyone and continued to shoot films. Accordingly, the shock was also great for quite a few people involved in Marvel, who also knew nothing about Boseman’s cancer and were completely surprised by the death notice published by his family.
The question was accordingly how the MCU would deal with the death of the actor with “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”. Those responsible quickly make it clear that they would not recast T’Challa aka Black Panther, accordingly it was thus certain that the Marvel hero would also see the end of his days. Many fans were certainly curious to know what T’Challa would die of in the MCU, but “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” probably has a good reason for not providing an exact answer, but it does reflect the death of Chadwick Boseman in several important aspects.
Black Panther 2: T’Challa’s mysterious illness
Even before the Marvel Studios logo flickers across the screens, the first scene confronts us directly with the gruesome reality and may have awakened some to the shock of Boseman’s passing. For in it we see Shuri (Letitia Wright) fighting for the life of her dying brother in the lab. Her attempt to artificially create the purple herb that gives the Black Panther superhuman strength and save T’Challa with it is not completed in time, however, which is why the new queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) must inform her daughter that her other child is now in the afterlife with his ancestors.
Exactly what disease T’Challa died of is not resolved in the course of the film, and we can expect that the MCU responsible parties will not answer this exactly in the future. Apparently, it was considered more tactful to keep quiet about the circumstances of T’Challa’s death. All we know is that it was an illness he had been suffering from secretly for a while and only informed his family about it when it was practically too late – similar to what happened to Boseman.
Moreover, it was apparently a disease that even the advanced technology of Wakanda could do nothing about. So we can speculate that it was cancer as well, because if humanity could cure cancer in the MCU thanks to the medicine of the fictional African country, it would certainly be such an important change that it would have been thematized somewhere before. Especially since we also know that Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) died of cancer in the MCU in 2020, four years after Wakanda decided to share its achievements with the world. Someone in Maria Rambeau’s position would certainly have been able to access appropriate cancer treatment, had it existed.
Fans may at least consider the end credits scene a small consolation. In it, it is finally revealed that T’Challa and Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) have a son together, who is commonly called Toussaint, but whose Wakandan name is T’Challa and who calls himself the Prince of Wakanda. It’s doubtful that he’ll take over the throne of the country at some point; due to his age, that wouldn’t be relevant for another ten years, and who knows what the MCU will look like in 2032 (and if the franchise will still exist at all), unless we’re in for another time jump á la “Avengers: Endgame”.
The appearance of T’Challa Jr. was therefore probably more of an emotional pointer that indicates that the spirit of the Marvel hero lives on in the MCU – which certainly also applies to Chadwick Boseman, whose legacy will surely accompany his co-stars for a long time to come.