Disney, Marvel Studios Didn't Know About Chadwick Boseman Cancer
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Disney And Marvel Studios Didn’t Know About Chadwick Boseman Cancer Diagnosis

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BY September 2, 2020

The night Chadwick Boseman died from Stage IV colon cancer, more than a dozen of the top trending Twitter topics were about him. Mostly people mourned, but enough people talked about Black Panther 2 to get it trending. Many, including your humble correspondent, felt that was in poor taste. Despite my own personal sadness that that we’ll not see his T’Challa again, it just feels small to complain about a movie you won’t get to see in the face of the larger cultural loss. Yet, this is precisely what the studio is thinking about at the moment, because the Black Panther franchise is a huge part of the MCU. A new report reveals that Chadwick Boseman never told Disney or Marvel Studios about his cancer diagnosis. This means, that all the work done in preparation for the next installment was done with the actor as T’Challa in mind.

Before we get into what that means for the studio, fans, and the storytellers, we have to marvel at Boseman once more. He was able to film all of these movies while getting surgeries, chemotherapy, and fighting the disease every day. Not only that, all accounts suggest he was a positive presence on film sets. In a new report, someone reportedly close to Boseman said this was strategic. He believed, almost until the end, that he would beat the disease and that it would be something he could reveal, if ever, after-the-fact.

Unfortunately, this was not to be the case. The same report reveals that Kevin Feige at Marvel Studios was informed the day Boseman died. He didn’t read the email until the actor passed away.

Disney and Marvel Studios Are in a Very Difficult Position Now, Focused on Remembering the Star

Joker Comic Book Movies Award Shows Oscars Black Panther Helmut Zemo Chadwick Boseman Cancer Marvel Studios Disney Image via Marvel Studios

In the immediate aftermath of his passing, it seemed impossible that Chadwick Boseman kept his cancer diagnosis from Disney and Marvel Studios. Tweets that night marveled at the number of people who “kept” that secret. Yet, it turns out that no one knew. Ryan Coogler admitted he didn’t know in his touching tribute to the actor. And there was no legal reason Boseman needed to disclose it. A Film finance attorney named Schulyer Moore told The Hollywood Reporter, who broke the story, that he would not have needed to submit to a medical examination. Instead, he said, “studios will just shoulder the risk” of injury or death for their stars.

Marvel Studios and Disney have scant options available to them, neither clearly better. They could simply, as the comics have done, pass the mantle of Black Panther to Letitia Wright’s Shuri. However, that would mean that after only a short stint as king (and being gone for five years), T’Challa would die off-screen. An ignominious end for one of the most iconic characters in any Marvel Universe.

They could recast the character, allowing T’Challa to go on for at least one movie. They did it with Bruce Banner and James Rhodes. Yet, neither of their actors died. A recasting, especially announced too soon, could seem like an insult to Boseman. And the report suggests that those who worked with him, including on the executive level, are shocked and grieving. The focus, currently, is on honoring Boseman. And, due to the nature of the MCU and film production in general, everything is delayed, and plans can be redrawn.

What do you think about Chadwick Boseman not saying anything about his cancer diagnosis to Disney or Marvel Studios? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Featured image via Marvel Studios


Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book of superhero short stories, Tales of Adventure & Fantasy: Book One is available as an ebook or paperback from Amazon.


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