Marvel Studios has confirmed that Chadwick Boseman's pioneering character T-Challa will not be recast in the sequel to Black Panther.
"His portrayal of T'Challa the Black Panther is iconic and transcends any iteration of the character in any other medium from Marvel's past – and it's for that reason that we will not recast the character," Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, said.
Boseman died in August after a four-year battle with colon cancer, having never publicly discussed his condition.
A planned sequel to the 2018 film, which saw Boseman play the first black superhero to get his own standalone film in the franchise, will still go ahead. And while T’Challa will not feature, the film will use "all of the rich and varied characters introduced in the first film”, according to Feige.
"To honour the legacy that Chad helped us build through his portrayal of the king of Wakanda, we want to continue to explore the world of Wakanda," said Feige, who added that returning director Ryan Coogler is already "hard at work on the sequel”. It is due for release in cinemas in July 2022.
The original Black Panther grossed over $1 billion worldwide and became the first film based on a comic book to be nominated for best picture at the Oscars. It was widely heralded by both critics and audiences.
But as one Twitter user succinctly put it: “There is only one king.”
The news comes a couple of weeks after tributes poured in for the much-loved and respected actor, on what would have been his 44th birthday, November 29.
“Chadwick Boseman would have turned 44 years old today,” wrote rapper and actor Common on Twitter. “Happy Birthday King. God bless you. Thank you for using your gift to bring light to this world. RIP.”
Boseman's Black Panther co-star Lupita Nyong'o wrote, "Deeply loved, sorely missed", while Mark Ruffalo, who plays the Hulk in the Avengers franchise, shared a touching video of the cast and crew of Avengers: Endgame singing happy birthday to the actor on set.
“Thinking of your passion, love and your light today,” he wrote. “Happy birthday, wishing we could travel back to this moment.”
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, which stars Boseman in his final performance, will be released on Netflix on December 18.