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D23 EXPO 2022 - The Ultimate Disney Fan Event presented by VISA - brings together all the worlds of Disney under one roof for three packed days of presentations, pavilions, experiences, concerts, sneak peeks, shopping, and more. The event, which takes place September 9, 10, and 11 at the Anaheim Convention Center, provides fans with unprecedented access to Disney films, series, games, theme parks, collectibles, and celebrities. (The Walt Disney Company via Getty Images) Angela Bassett, Tenoch Huerta, Winston Duke, Letitia Wright, Ryan Coogler, Kevin Feige (President, Marvel Studios)

If you don’t already know my relationship to Black Panther, let me fill you in. I doubt that there is anyone on the face of the earth that watched Black Panther more than me when it came out. When I tell you I watched it over 50 times, IN THE THEATER, I am not lying. I went to see it with anyone and everyone who would go with me. And I went many days alone when I got off the air.

When Chadwick Boseman died, I was heartbroken. I still am. It’s still one of the most impactful celebrity deaths for me. After he died, I wrote Remembering Chadwick Boseman, if you want to check it out. Reading that will give you a little more context as to why Wakanda Forever is feeling so bittersweet to me.

The new trailer just came out, and I am seriously all in my feels. I know it sounds crazy, but I feel like someone punched me in the gut. Just seeing the opening of the trailer brought back the grief I felt when we lost him. Before I go on, in case you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the trailer.

I know that there has been a lot of back and forth within the MCU about recasting Tchalla or not. I go back and forth between, “no way, there’s only one Tchalla,” and “Chadwick would have wanted Tchalla to live on.” I honestly don’t know what he actually felt, but my guess is that his generous spirit would have wanted whatever director Ryan Coogler wanted to do.

When I watched the trailer objectively, which was very difficult for me, it looks like a stunning and spectacular movie. The cast, the story, the action, all look like it will be another high-grossing blockbuster. That part of me is incredibly exciting. But the part of me that still can’t believe Chadwick Boseman is gone, is having a hard time moving on. I have heard Ryan Coogler and the cast went to visit Chadwick’s grave before shooting even began.

In an interview with AV Club, Danai Gurira, who plays Okoye, said “I remember sitting with Ryan, and he helped me process what felt different this time: It was grief,” adds Danai Gurira. “So grief intermingled with our process. There were things I couldn’t prepare for, like stepping into the throne room and remembering the last time I was there and getting really hit by that.”

What’s making me feel better about Wakanda Forever is how thoughtful everyone is going into it. It couldn’t be easy for them to film this. And the fact that it’s been described by many as a beautiful tribute to Chadwick, makes me feel comforted.

I know I sound dramatic to some, but honestly, Chadwick Boseman and Tchalla are so intertwined in my heart and mind, that I can’t separate them and am glad he wasn’t replaced. To me, there is no other. I think that what Black Panther meant for the culture and for young Black boys and girls, makes the difference.

I already have several invitations to go see if when it comes out, and I’m not sure I will even attempt to watch it as many times as I watched Black Panther. But one thing is for sure, I will be bringing a lot of tissues to the theater with me. I’ll be the one crying in my popcorn.

Wakanda Forever hits theaters on November 11th.

Pebbles

And just because…

GALLERY: Chadwick Boseman Over the Years