Thousands of Black Panther fans are petitioning to re-cast Chadwick Boseman's King T'Challa in the upcoming Marvel sequel, out of respect for the late actor's work on the character and to "honor" the hero's legacy.
The petition, posted on Change.org by E-Man's Movie Reviews, outlines a call to action "for the President of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige, Co-President Louis D'Esposito, and Writer/Director Ryan Coogler to reconsider their decision, and recast the role of 'T'Challa' in the Black Panther franchise."
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"If Marvel Studios removes T'Challa, it would be at the expense of the audiences (especially Black boys and men) who saw themselves in him," the petition says. "That also includes the millions of fans who were inspired by the character as well."
"By not recasting, it could stifle the opportunity for one of the most popular, leading Black superheroes to add on to their legacy," it continues. "The #1 way to kill a legend, is to stop telling their story."
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Marvel Chadwick Boseman as King T'Challa in Black Panther
The petition goes on to encourage signing and using the hashtag #RecastTChalla on social media, but clarifies that the movement's intention "is not asking for an immediate replacement" in the role or a replacement of Boseman in the grand scheme, as "no one could ever do that."
"Nor is this calling for the prevention of other characters to take up the mantle of Black Panther like Shuri or anyone else," it continues. "This petition is merely asking to continue the portrayal of T'Challa in the MCU. #RecastTChalla is a call to fulfill the role that Chadwick Boseman worked so hard for the world to see."
"T'Challa's character was only scratching the surface with his story in the MCU, and there is so much more left to tell," the petition also says.
Feige, 47, announced in December that Boseman's role of King T'Challa would not be recast following his death, and the sequel would instead focus on the fictional kingdom of Wakanda.
"I know Chad wouldn't have wanted us to stop," Coogler, 34, recently told The Hollywood Reporter. "He was somebody who was so about the collective. Black Panther, that was his movie. He was hired to play that role before anybody else was even thought of, before I was hired, before any of the actresses were hired."
Marvel Lupita Nyong'o, Chadwick Boseman and Danai Gurira in Black Panther
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"I had not thought about that idea, but of course it is Wakanda and they are, in terms of technology, they are so far ahead of the rest of the world that they would be able to bring some of that," said Bassett, 62, of a potential CGI reimagining of T'Challa, which Executive Producer Victoria Alonso also shot down in November.
She went on to call the death of Boseman "a tremendous loss," adding that "Kevin and the Marvel universe and Ryan, the director, the writer from before, they are committed to telling [a story] and equally as much as we can, equally planned."
As of Wednesday morning, the Change.org petition had garnered over 4,000 signatures.
Black Panther II is scheduled for release on July 8, 2022.