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  5. 'What If?': Makers reminisce about Chadwick Boseman's last outing as Marvel's T'Challa

'What If?': Makers reminisce about Chadwick Boseman's last outing as Marvel's T'Challa

Ahead of the release of Marvel's first animated series, 'What If?', the makers reminisced about Chadwick Boseman's last venture as MCU's superhero, T'Challa's development and Jeffrey Wright's memorable meeting with the late actor.

Written by: Vaishali Jain New Delhi Published on: August 10, 2021 7:38 IST
Chadwick Boseman

Chadwick Boseman

The death of Hollywood star Chadwick Boseman, who became a household name for essaying the role of black superhero Black Panther/T'Challa in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was one of the biggest shockers. As the American actor was breaking stereotypes and setting box office records, he was battling cancer for many years. In Marvel's upcoming venture, 'What If?', an animated show diving into the MCU multiverse, Boseman will be seen as the loved superhero for the last time. 

In a press conference held ahead of the release of the show, the makers of 'What If?' reminisced about Chadwick Boseman's last venture as Marvel's superhero, T'Challa's development and Jeffrey Wright's memorable meeting with the late actor.

Show director Bryan Andrews calls the little time that he got to spend with Boseman 'amazing'. "We only got some time because our episodes are so short. But everybody was able to enjoy his presence like in Black Panther and Captain America: Civil War," he said, adding, "It was amazing working with Chadwick. He was one of the earliest actors to sign 'What If?' saying he is so excited."

During the discussion, Bryan recalled how Boseman made the dubbing process appear to be a theatrical performance. "He was so theatrical. He used to read the script like a screen description and built it like a play. It was so much fun. However, none of us knew what he was going through. He was so excited to play this version of T'Challa because it was new to play a king, but a king without a mantle of royalty. He saw the opportunity. He made the character more juicy, funny and give it a flavour that has not been seen before."

Westworld actor Jeffrey Wright also had a vivid memory to share. Looking back, he reminisced about meeting the actor during ComicCon. "I met Chadwick for the first time in ComicCon, in the bathroom, as he was about to introduce first Black Panther movie and I was with Westworld. We had a wonderful exchange," he said.

Wright also revealed that they were to share screen space in Oscar-winning film 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom', but he couldn't due to his previous film commitments. Hence collaborating with Boseman for Marvel's first animated show was a lovely surprise for him.

"It was a lovely surprise to find that we would have the opportunity, at least, to be in the same space with What If?. This being the last performance that we’ll get from him I find it very moving. The thing that strikes me most about him is that the mythic qualities he brought to his films paled in front of the mythic quality of his life. In terms of the way, he did his work, with grace, dignity, and power. So, I’m really pleased to share a little bit of time with him on this," Jeffrey said.

With the trailer of the show, we know that T’Challa becomes Star Lord instead of Black Panther. Youndu, who was supposed to kidnap Peter Quill takes T'Challa as his hostage instead. In this non-linear timeline, T'Challa grows up to become the Star Lord instead of the royal prince of Wakanda. 

Explaining the character arch head writer, AC Bradley shared, "T'Challa is not a character that arches himself but he changes the world around him. He doesn't go through a transformation but he transforms the world. while making the episode, it was more like taking a step ahead about how T'Challa would change the world and not the other way around."

She also recalled the conceptualisation of the episode, two years ago, when the actor was still with us. "The concept came in the meeting room where we had a poster of all the characters. Suddenly, we realised T'Challa and Star Lord are of same age and the question became of finding the other side of the superhero."

What If's episode is actor Chadwick Boseman’s last venture as the comic book character before he passed away in 2020. With the anthology, the makers want to honour Boseman and his character. 

"He was a hero, for real. When the show was in post-production, he had already passed. So we had to make sure that there was nothing wrong with his episode in particular. In terms of the music, the score, and everything else, we tried to honour everything that Chadwick brought to the table. after his demise, everything in the meetings, which were supposed to be notes became emotional and things mattered more. It is still rough," said Andrews.

Each chapter of the 10-episode season of the animated series, 'What If?' will explore a pivotal moment from the Marvel Cinematic Universe that has been radically changed. It will also set new possibilities for what the fans could expect from Marvel in forthcoming projects. the series will premiere on Disney+ Hotstar from Aug 11.



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