How One Edited Line of Dialogue Totally Changed Black Panther's Ending

Disney/Marvel Studios
Disney/Marvel Studios / Disney/Marvel Studios

Fans often look at movie reshoots as a bad thing—jumping to the (often erroneous) conclusion that the reason more filming is needed is because things went terribly wrong behind the scenes the first time around. While that can be the case, they're more often used as a way to streamline a film's storyline. In the case of Black Panther, editor Michael Shawver recently told CinemaBlend that reshoots allowed the filmmakers to change a line of dialogue, which ultimately altered the movie's ending.

Spoiler alert: The ending of Black Panther comes full circle, with T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) not only explaining to the United Nations how Wakanda will help the rest of the world, but also by setting up refurbishment projects and outreach programs. The truly special part is that the first project shown is in Oakland, California, where T’Challa’s cousin Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) grew up.

The ending that fans know and love is all thanks to reshoots, because filmmakers believed the original ending would have left T’Challa’s journey unfinished, and in turn left viewers with a very different taste in their mouths.

"What we shot originally ... 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," Shawver explained.

The original ending featured T’Challa’s United Nations speech, which is now in the mid-credits, but showed nothing of the work that he and Shuri (Letitia Wright) had begun.

Fortunately, Shawver and co-writer/director Ryan Coogler noticed this narrative hole prior to reshoots, which gave Coogler time to write a new ending for the would-be blockbuster. The filmmakers decided that for the film to come full circle, it had to end with T’Challa sharing Wakanda’s resources in Oakland, the childhood home of Killmonger, who had to die at the end of the film. The powerful scene even features a young kid who looks a lot like a young Killmonger.

“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 said. See what a difference a reshoot can make?