The latest episode of What If…? comes with a sad undertone, containing the final performance of the late, great Chadwick Boseman as his iconic hero T’Challa/Black Panther.
Released posthumously following his shocking death in August 2020, the episode imagines an alternate Marvel Cinematic Universe where T’Challa become a spacefaring hero instead of the Wakandan king and warrior Black Panther, and is dedicated to Boseman’s memory – but apparently it’s not the very last time we’ll hear Boseman’s performance, with the series creators revealing that there are plans for T’Challa to make small cameos in future episodes.
“There are a few more times where he pops up briefly in a couple other episodes, so we were able to record with him a little bit during the pandemic,” director Bryan Andrews told The Hollywood Reporter.
“Those records were over Zoom calls, and in the last record, when we were done, I, selfishly, was able to tell him how much I personally thought of him and how great it was to work with him and how much we all appreciate him and his work.”
Later, executive producer Brad Winderbaum clarified that some of these appearances would be as alternate versions of T’Challa in other parallel-universe stories involving the character.
“He’s in four episodes as three different versions of T’Challa,” he told SFX.
Shots in the What If…? trailer also hint at this, showing T’Challa (in his Star-Lord helmet) teaming up with a group of other heroes, suggesting that fans may still have more from the character (and Boseman) to look forward to at some point in the seven remaining episodes of What If…? season one.
However, other plans to work more with the character (as are rumoured for Hayley Atwell’s Captain Carter) did have to be shelved following Boseman’s death.
“We were already thinking of finding a way to do spin-offs and stuff like that of him and his crew to have these wonderful adventures,” Andrews told EW.
“Because [while] the character was so different, you can keep some of the virtue and some of the integrity and all the other important aspects of T’Challa as we know him, Black Panther, without necessarily the pressure of the kingdom Wakanda.”
Sadly, this will no longer be the case – but at least this final vocal performance can finally see the light of day.
“He was a super pro and wonderful and super amazing and we had no idea, you know? He brought so much to the role and he was into it and fun,” Andrews said.
“He wanted every chance he could to get T’Challa out there, and this was going to be one of those last chances.”