Black Panther director Ryan Coogler has written a tribute to his friend Chadwick Boseman, who passed away last Friday after a private battle with cancer. In a statement posted on Marvel.com, Coogler reminisces on his work with Boseman, and how the T’Challa actor brought so much to the film above and beyond what would be expected.
In particular, Coogler reveals that one of the film’s most striking lines was suggested by Boseman–not for his own character, but for Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger. “In early drafts of the script, [Erik] Killmonger’s character would ask T’Challa to be buried in Wakanda,” Coogler explained. “Chad challenged that and asked, ‘What if Killmonger asked to be buried somewhere else?'” In the finished film, Killmonger says “just bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped from ships, ’cause they knew death was better than bondage.”
Throughout the whole process, Boseman put a lot of thought and effort into the film, not just for what it was, but for what it would come to represent. “We would often speak about heritage and what it means to be African,” Coogler said. “When preparing for the film, he would ponder every decision, every choice, not just for how it would reflect on himself, but how those choices could reverberate.”
“We talked costumes, military practices,” Coogler added. “He said to me, ‘Wakandans have to dance during the coronations. If they just stand there with spears, what separates them from Romans?'”
Every step of the way, Boseman put the time in–including on Captain America: Civil War, before Coogler even came on the scene. Boseman even turned up for auditions for the film’s supporting roles, something Coogler reveals is “not common for lead actors in big budget movies.”
Tributes to Chadwick Boseman have flooded in since his sudden passing last week, including by his Black Panther co-star Michael B. Jordan, the developers of Marvel’s Avengers, and even Fortnite players have gathered to remember him.