One of the biggest movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe almost had an entirely different ending. It turns out a line spoken by Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) was removed from the final cut, which would have dramatically changed the tone of the film.
In a new interview with Cinemablend, Black Panther editor Michael Shawver revealed that the United Nations scene — where T’Challa is addressing a full room about his nation of Wakanda — was supposed to be the last scene in the film. The scene was ultimately moved to the mid-credit mark. Co-editor Debbie Berman made a comment to Shawver and director Ryan Coogler, noting that in the original cut, T’Challa had not learned the lesson of the story because of one of Killmonger’s last lines.
“With reshoots Ryan wanted to do a new ending, and it’s a whole bigger thing with the scene where Killmonger dies… What we shot originally, and in the script, was Killmonger saying ‘It’s beautiful, but what are you going to do for everybody in the world who can’t see this?’… And it was great. It was powerful, it was awesome, but it was problematic for a few reasons. One, we realized that just as a character, for the journey of T’Challa, he can’t get the answer to the movie and what he needs to do from the villain – like straight-up exactly what he needs. And that’s kind of what was happening. Secondly, it was a great performance, and [Michael B. Jordan] brought it, and it was painful to watch because you kind of don’t want this guy to die, but it didn’t fit his character,” Shawver revealed.
This prompted Coogler to rewrite the ending and add the Oakland scene, which fans know takes place at end of the film. This is where T’Challa comes full circle and goes back to where Killmonger was raised, buying the apartment building and other surrounding buildings to create the Wakanda Outreach Program.
Shawver noted the brilliance of Coogler who rewrote the Oakland scene rather quickly which included a young child who resembled Killmonger. It turns out that was all done on purpose to bridge together the entire movie.
“And then at the very, very, very end, the last line is that kid looking at him and saying, ‘Who are you?’ And that is the theme of the movie, of identity. Who are you? And he doesn’t need to answer it, because he just answered it for us.”
Shawver revealed he and Coogler watched plenty of YouTube videos and browsed lists of the greatest movie endings of all time, taking inspiration from The Godfather when rewriting their now-famous ending. This has been a tradition for the two men who have worked together on several projects before.
Black Panther was the first Marvel Cinematic Universe movie to be nominated for a Golden Globe Best Picture award and could receive an Oscar nod in the coming week. The titular character is expected to return in Avengers: Endgame despite meeting his demise in Infinity War.