Kevin Feige has revealed that Chadwick Boseman was Marvel's "only choice" for the role of T'Challa in Ryan Coogler's Black Panther (and the MCU as a whole).
In October 2014, Marvel officially announced that Black Panther would be part of the MCU's Phase 3 slate. Then, it wasn't much later that they revealed Chadwick Boseman (Get On Up) would be playing the titular character that comic book fans had waited years to see on the big screen. While Boseman was a relatively unknown actor to the general public, it certainly seems like Marvel made the right choice for their T'Challa. Boseman made his debut as Black Panther in 2016's Captain America: Civil War, and now he's leading his own film in 2018's Black Panther.
In a recent Black Panther press conference that Screen Rant attended in Los Angeles, Kevin Feige has revealed that Boseman was literally Marvel's "only choice" for the character.
"I think you hear people say this all the time, when you’re in a setting like this, but he was the only choice. We were - it may not have been this fast, but in my memory, we were sitting around a table, we were coming up with the story for Civil War - Nate Moore, our executive producer, thought - suggested bringing in Black Panther, because we were looking for sort of a third party who wouldn’t necessarily side with Cap or side with Iron Man. And almost instantly, we all said Chadwick. And in my memory, although maybe it was the next day, we got him on a speaker phone right then."
It's worth remembering that Civil War was in something of a state of flux at the time. Marvel had hoped to reach an agreement to bring Spider-Man into the MCU in the film, but Sony had turned down Marvel's first approach for Spidey. Meanwhile, the Russo brothers were keen to introduce a character who wouldn't take a side. According to Feige, executive producer Nate Moore had the idea to bring in Black Panther. Given the international scope of Civil War, it certainly made sense.
According to Boseman, he was in Zurich, coming off the red carpet for Get On Up. He said: "The crazy thing is that I didn’t even have international calling on my phone, until that morning. Somebody said, 'Hey, get international on your phone and call your mom.' And then, that night, [Feige] called."
In another interview with Screen Rant, Boseman explained that he was delighted to get the call from Marvel. "They have a good batting average," he quipped. More to the point, when he heard the offer, Boseman believed this film would push the envelope in a fascinating way. Boseman added: "Every project, it has to be something that’s challenging and cool and that’s a challenge for me. It keeps me interested."
The reality is that Black Panther had always been on Marvel's radar. Marvel Studios was formed back in 2005, and Marvel initially announced a potential slate of ten films - including, even at that stage, Black Panther. The studio actually hired Mark Bailey to work on an initial script back in 2011. Ultimately, it took the approach of Civil War to make that ambition a reality. Fortunately for the fans, Boseman jumped at the chance to join the MCU and that's what led to Coogler's Black Panther film finally coming to fruition.