Black Panther‘s ending is one of the most impactful conclusions in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far, but it’s a good thing those productions build several days of reshoots into their process, because the entire ending was reworked at the last minute.
Read more about the original Black Panther ending and how co-writer/director Ryan Coogler took inspiration from The Godfather to craft a new finale for the film.
Michael Shawver, one of Black Panther‘s editors, spoke with CinemaBlend and revealed that the movie was originally going to cut from the final scene with Michael B. Jordan‘s Erik Killmonger (whose last words made our 50 Greatest Movie Moments of 2018 list) to T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman)’s United Nations address. But the filmmakers ended up using the reshoot time to their advantage and cooking up something that had more thematic resonance:
“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.”
So Coogler reworked the scene – but not before throwing on one of cinema’s all-time classics for inspiration. Shawver continued:
“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.”
So Coogler shifted the United Nations scene to the mid-credits, and instead wrapped up the pre-credits story with a scene of T’Challa and Shuri (Letitia Wright) visiting Oakland and preparing to establish their country’s first international outreach center:
This way, T’Challa organically learns a lesson about sharing resources beyond Wakanda’s borders not only from Killmonger, but from Lupita Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) as well. It’s a cleaner, more subtle piece of character growth instead of seeing the villain simply hand T’Challa the resolution he seeks. So count this as yet another example of reshoots dramatically improving the final cut of a movie.
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