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The Avengers Should Have Attended T'Challa's Funeral (Not Just Tony Stark's)

Contains spoilers for "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" 

In terms of internet coverage, it's common knowledge that the plot of "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" was supposed to be very, very different than what was ultimately produced. Originally, the film was set to follow T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman), a.k.a. the Black Panther, as he grieved the five years he lost because of the blip (via Variety). Ryan Coogler, the creative mind behind the "Black Panther" films, framed the lost sequel as a story of healing in the wake of tragedy. Unfortunately, the core tone carried into what "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" would ultimately become, only with a different impetus. 

Boseman's death fundamentally altered the course the story would take. As Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel Studios, told Empire, "It just felt like it was much too soon to recast. Stan Lee always said that Marvel represents the world outside your window ... [and] the world is still processing the loss of Chad." In this way, the story Coogler crafted became a mirror. As he lost his friend ... Earth 616 lost an Avenger. Wakanda lost a king. Ramonda (Angela Basset) lost her son. Shuri (Letitia Wright) lost her brother. Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o) lost her love. 

Despite any and all good intentions, the decision to lay T'Challa to rest with Boseman came with some complications. While a not insignificant percentage of the fanbase wished the role to be recast, the more pressing issue appeared in the narrative. Perhaps in an effort to streamline an already long film, "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" opens with the death and subsequent funeral of the late leader. T'Challa's family, as well as his country, are seen mourning him, but there's a notable lack of heroes present to pay their final respects. 

The Avengers would have wanted to attend T'Challa's funeral

There's no version of this story where the surviving Avengers would not have done everything within their power to attend T'Challa's funeral. "Avengers: Endgame" saw every single character with a recognizable face and name attend the funeral for Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), a.k.a. Iron Man. Yes, he sacrificed his life to save the universe, but nobody actually LIKED him. Half of the villain origin stories within the Marvel Cinematic Universe have a foundation in Tony's mistakes, and most of the other conflicts stem from Tony handling his guilt about the aforementioned mistakes very, very badly. 

At best, Tony earned a grudging respect from his peers, and they still showed up to send him away properly. On the other hand, T'Challa opened his heart and home to the world. He permitted Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), a.k.a. the Winter Soldier, the man who literally killed his father, to seek sanctuary and rehabilitation in Wakanda. Granted, T'Challa knew that Bucky was brainwashed into becoming an assassin, but then again, Tony knew that Bucky was brainwashed into killing his parents, too ... and he handled the situation with, uh, distinguishably less grace. So, why weren't any heroes present in "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever?"

Well, let's take stock. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and the Guardians of the Galaxy were off-planet. The same might be true for Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), too. Peter Parker (Tom Holland), a.k.a. Spider-Man, is WAY too poor to book an international flight. The Dora Milaje threatened Bucky never to return to Wakanda after he temporarily sided with Baron Von Zemo (Daniel Brühl) to stop Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman). Aside from them, though, no one left alive really has a good excuse. 

Cameos would have pulled focus from what mattered most

Granted, it's possible that Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), a.k.a. the Hulk, was busy with matters in "She-Hulk: Attorney at Law" and that Old-Man Steve Rodgers (Chris Evans) was actively withering away in superhero hospice somewhere. And according to Screen Rant, "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" is concurrent with "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania," so Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a.k.a. the Ant-Man, might be busy dying, too, but what about Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), a.k.a. Captain America and Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), a.k.a. Hawkeye? What about Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch)? What about Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), a.k.a. Captain Marvel?  

While it's true that these heroes would unequivocally wish to honor T'Challa's life, there are two major factors that would easily explain their absences, and neither of them boils down to "celebrities cameos are expensive," even if that did probably play a part. First, from a meta standpoint, the film didn't need them. "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" saw T'Challa die offscreen after succumbing to a nameless disease because calling it cancer would have been too on the nose. His death was very much treated as if it were Chadwick Boseman's very own passing. 

The people of Wakanda are vibrant and varied in disposition, but they are also a deeply knit community. It feels as though we, as a community of Marvel fans, were meant to grieve Boseman through their communal grief for T'Challa. With so few of the remaining heroes who knew T'Challa as the Black Panther being in a position where attendance was even possible, their presence would have distracted from the purpose of the funeral scene. The grief of heroes like Peter Parker and Sam Wilson is meant to be more individualistic by nature. 

Queen Ramonda probably wouldn't have let them come, anyway

The other possible reason why the Avengers couldn't make an appearance is less meta and more story driven: Ramonda might not have permitted them, or anyone outside of Wakanda, to attend. Think about it ... the reestablished queen regained her throne through unforeseen tragedy. Whether justified or not, how likely is it that she was in a mind to continue T'Challa's message of global unity in the moments after his death? A message no other ruler of Wakanda before him ever once approved of? A message she never openly supported? 

Any threat to her family's well-being was treated like a roach and quickly stomped out. Ramonda even stripped Okoye (Danai Gurira) of her rank as the leader of the Dora Milaje after Namor (Tenoch Huerta) broke his deal with the Wakandans and interfered with a mission in which Shuri was present. In no uncertain language, the queen's wrath fell squarely on the woman who considered her family, calling Okoye a backstabbing traitor who deserved worse punishment than she received. We'd say that Ramonda's vitriol was just the grief talking, but she's never really had a lot of screen time before now. We just don't know. 

The Avengers absolutely should have attended T'Challa's funeral. The late Black Panther's passing merited every cape and every cowl to be hung low in mourning, and yet the circumstances just didn't work out that way. It's always possible that other solo projects will feature moments of grief for the heroes who know him; it wouldn't be the first time that Marvel had inserted their characters into previously established moments in the chronology. Until then, we'll just have to use our imaginations.