Before his untimely death last year, Chadwick Boseman brought his Marvel character T’Challa to life one final time, and now fans are about to see the Black Panther hero in an entirely new light. Boseman’s final role will finally hit screens in the second episode of What If...?, Marvel’s upcoming animated series that reimagines its heroes in alternate timelines. But don’t expect to see T’Challa defending Wakanda in his vibranium Black Panther suit. Instead, Chadwick Boseman will voice T’Challa as Star-Lord in his What If...? episode.
Show creator A.C. Bradley revealed the story behind Boseman’s What If...? episode at a Disney+ press conference on Sunday, Aug. 1. The series’ second episode, which is slated to release on Wednesday, Aug. 18, will explore a universe in which T’Challa became the intergalactic hero Star-Lord instead of Peter Quill. In this timeline, T’Challa was beamed up by Star-Lord mentor Yondu from his home in Wakanda, leading to him learning the ways of outer space smuggling rather than becoming Wakanda’s king.
“T’Challa is an interesting character because he’s not a character who arcs himself; he’s a character who changes the world around him,” Bradley said. “He doesn’t go through a transformation, he transforms the world. So, taking a step back, (we pondered) how could T’Challa transform outer space?”
Director Bryan Andrews teased this version of T’Challa would be lighter and “more jokey” than the more serious version fans saw in Black Panther, which fits with Star-Lord’s more laid-back, fun-loving persona made popular by Chris Pratt.
The new show was intentionally scheduled to premiere shortly after Loki’s Season 1 finale to follow up the destruction of the MCU’s timeline. In that series, Loki and his variant, Sylvie, caused the sacred timeline to branch into countless new realities. Fans already know upcoming Marvel movies will explore these different dimensions, and What If...? is intended to serve as an introduction to the multiverse.
The series is also notable as Boseman’s final acting role. Boseman died of colon cancer on Aug. 28, 2020, before filming had begun on the upcoming Black Panther sequel. At the end of 2020, his first posthumous release, Netflix’s adaptation of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, debuted. When Episode 2 of What If...? airs on Aug. 18, it will mark Boseman’s final work to be released.
What If...? premieres on Disney+ on Wednesday, Aug. 11.