black panther

As the title suggests, this article will include spoilers for ‘Black Panther’. You have been warned.

‘Black Panther’ very nearly had a different ending. Usually when we begin an article like this, we’re getting ready to talk about an ending that was changed before the film went before the cameras. In the case of ‘Black Panther’, however, the changes to the ending are not a matter of an earlier version of the story taking a radically different path. Rather, it comes down to choices made in the editing bay.

According to director Ryan Coogler during an interview on the Empire Film Podcast, there were two endings that were considered for the film. The first was of course what we got, which sees T’Challa and Shuri visit Oakland, CA where T’Challa intends to establish Wakanda’s first foreign outreach center. The other saw T’Challa reveal the truth about Wakanda to the outside world at the United Nations, which would instead become the film’s mid-credits scene. But how was the decision made? As Coogler explains:

“It was [almost the ending]. We played with a lot of different was to end it. We went back and forth about the UN, and we had a version where it was the UN before the scenes in Oakland at the end. But we really kind of settled on how do we want the movie to end? And it came back to that symmetry, and it came back to the most moving version of it. That’s what we were asking ourselves, “Who’s more moved emotionally, that kid or the people sitting in the UN?” Who is the bigger deal for T’Challa to walk in, who’s more connected to him?”

It’s easy to see how this debate came to be. While T’Challa’s speech at the UN is the culmination of a subplot that runs through much of the film (arguably with roots in ‘Captain America: Civil War’) and thus represents a logical narrative closure point. On the other hand, the scene in Oakland not only bookends the film’s opening scenes, but it underscores many of the broader thematic elements at work in the film, to say nothing of the real world significance it has taken on. All of that combines to render the Oakland ending that much more moving. And it was ultimately this thematic importance and emotional resonance that determined the shape of the ending. Coogler continues:

“As a kid, growing up, when you see somebody who looks like an older version of you doing something awesome, it’s like, “What’s going on?” That’s kind of what that moment… We kind of went with the less distilled emotion, and the UN makes sense afterwards for where Wakanda could be going in the future of this universe.”

Helmed by ‘Creed’ director Ryan Coogler, ‘Black Panther’ marks the eighteenth installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film, which stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, and Andy Serkis, is now playing in theaters.