Black Panther was a critical and commercial success when it comes to superhero films. It became the highest grossing film in the US going past the $700 Million marks and it got a 97% Score on Rotten Tomatoes, which is the highest for any superhero film. It has been added in multiple Academy Award categories, and recently even won awards at the Golden Globes, and other ceremonies. This film became a cultural phenomenon and was special to many people.
Everything about it was just perfect or almost flawless. This was a film that was lifted by the numerous amazing character portrayals, but you cannot take anything away from the story. Ryan Coogler crafted a remarkable story cherry picking the best moments from various Black Panther storylines. People had a little problem with the big CGI battle at the end but we can ignore that amongst so many other great things from the film.
One of the most amazing aspects of the film was Killmonger’s entire story arc. Erik Killmonger became the second greatest villain in the MCU until Thanos arrived. His character was so relatable that people actually supported him for many things.
He was probably the only villain that managed to change the perspective of the protagonist and led him on the true path to righteousness. Killmonger died at the end and the whole sunset moment was gut-wrenching. But now a new update suggests that the ending of the film could have been totally different.
Black Panther editor Michael Shawver was a part of an interview with Cinemablend where he revealed that Killmonger’s final line was different and that it caused problems for T’Challa’s story. So all that led to the change for the better which was brought by Ryan Coogler during the Reshoots. Here’s what Shawver had to say:
“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.”
The scene that is being talked about here is the one where T’Challa takes Shuri to Oakland and tells him about the buildings in Killmonger’s society that he bought. Shawver continued:
“Ryan went off in his lab and did his brilliant work that he does as a writer, and wrote the final scene in Oakland where he goes with Shuri and shows the Royal Talon fighter to those kids, and specifically a kid that kinda looks like a young Killmonger. Basically, him showing them that, and buying those buildings, and the Wakandan Outreach Program was in spirit what originally we had Killmonger tell him. ‘If people can just see this. If people can see their own potential then things would be different.’ And so that was done in a new scene where we see what T’Challa has done. 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.”
To find the perfect ending, Coogler took inspiration from the best movie endings of all time as films like The Godfather drove the way Black Panther ended. Shawver said:
“One thing that we did was looking at all those Top 10 lists of best endings ever for movies, and we found in a lot of these videos it was one of two things: it was either the twist ending, or it was The Godfather. Basically, the first time you meet Michael, he’s with Kay and he’s telling her he’s not like his family. ‘That’s not me, Kay. That’s them.’ The last scene we see him, he’s telling Kay he’s not like his family… But then he walks and the door shuts, and you know everything is different. But it’s the same conversation! And so it’s the circular nature why those kinds of endings feel like closure even though it’s open-ended.”
Killmonger’s final line literally broke our hearts.
“Bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped from the ships, because they knew death was better than bondage.”