Marvel's 'What If...?' Will Showcase Another Side Of Chadwick Boseman's T'Challa

The late Chadwick Boseman earned a posthumous Oscar nomination this year for his final live-action performance in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. He was heavily favored to win, so much so that they structured the end of the whole awards ceremony around the Best Actor category, only for Anthony Hopkins to stage an upset.

We haven't heard the last from Boseman, however, as he recorded a voice role prior to his death for Marvel's upcoming Disney+ seriesWhat If...? In the lead-up to the show's debut on August 11, director Bryan Andrews and executive producer Brad Winderbaum have spoken out about what it was like working with Boseman before his passing. In doing so, they've also revealed that the series will explore a different side of Boseman's Black Panther character, T'Challa, than the one we've seen on film.

Boseman's death from colon cancer on August 28, 2020, came as a huge shock — not only to his fans, but also to his movie and TV collaborators. He chose to keep his health matters private, so Andrews was as in the dark about them as everyone else. Speaking at a global press conference (via Comic Book), he said:

"[Chadwick] was excited to play this particular version of T'Challa because it was different. Because it was a version of him playing the King, but the King without the mantel, the royalty and everything else that goes along with it. He could lighten it up and get more jokey with it. He was excited to bring back that flavor to T'Challa."

The Extent of Boseman's Role in What If…?

Andrews noted that he and his What If...? crew "only got a small moment" to work with Boseman because their episodes are so short. A trailer for the show last month teased that we'll be seeing T'Challa as Star-Lord in place of Peter Quill. It showed him palling around with Yondu and self-identifying as a Ravager.

The crux of the first season is said to be Captain Carter, an alternate-reality, super-soldier version of Peggy Carter, voiced by Hayley Atwell, who originated the live-action Peggy in Captain America: The First Avenger and Agent Carter. However, Andrews noted that Boseman "was one of the first actors to sign on" to What If...? and that his theater training led to a unique approach from the Black Panther star:

"Sometimes actors just want to hit the line and move on to the next one. But Chadwick wanted to do his part as a scene and build it up like a play. It was so much fun to do that because we got to read lines and do a performance with Chadwick Boseman."

Though it explores parallel universes, Winderbaum has said that What If..?'s story is as important to the MCU as other Marvel projects. He further elaborated on the extent of Boseman's role in the series:

"He's in four episodes, actually. He plays different versions of the character. I wouldn't say that anything changed drastically. We wanted to honor, frankly, his performance and his eagerness to be a part of the project. In retrospect, he recorded [these] episodes for us knowing what we all know now. We wanted to honor what he did, so we actually didn't change a lot of it. There were certain things, in the context of his passing, especially musically ... Lauren Karpman delivered what I think is an incredible score for the entire series and the way she approached T'Challa throughout, especially in light of his passing, is really beautiful."

What If...? arrives on Disney+ on August 11.