Spoilers for Black Panther follow below.
As evidenced by its behemoth box office and glowing reviews, people really, really like Black Panther. It’s one of the biggest and most groundbreaking Marvel Studios films yet, and that’s due in large part to the talents of co-writer/director Ryan Coogler, who brought a clear, unique, and ambitious vision to the table. Audiences are eating it up, and indeed the film is equal parts crowdpleaser and thought-provoking drama as Coogler weaves in themes that speak to the world we live in today, in between scenes of Danai Gurira kicking ass.
As with every movie, the development process of Black Panther was one in which each scene was carefully considered—right up through the end. The current Black Panther ending offers symmetry to the movie’s opening moments, as we end outside the apartment where Killmonger’s father was murdered. We see T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and Shuri (Letitia Wright) starting to bring Wakandan technology to light, but it’s the face of a young boy (played by Moonlight’s Alex Hibbert) that the film closes on as he looks at T’Challa in total awe.
The story somewhat continues in two post-credits scenes, the first of which shows T’Challa, Okoye (Gurira), and Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) entering the U.N., where T’Challa reveals that Wakanda has decided to share its technology and knowledge with the world at large. In speaking on the Empire Film Podcast, however, Coogler recently revealed that this U.N. post-credits scene is actually a Black Panther alternate ending, as they considered closing the film with that scene instead:
“It was [almost the ending]. We played with a lot of different ways to end it. We went back and forth about the U.N., and we had a version where it was the U.N. 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 U.N.?’ Who is that a bigger deal to for T’Challa to walk in, who’s more connected to him?”
The answer, which now seems obvious, is the little kid, and indeed Coogler wanted to zero in on that experience of looking up to someone as a hero, someone who looks like an adult version of you. Which for Black Panther, is a black superhero:
“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 U.N. makes sense afterwards for where Wakanda could be going in the future of this universe.”
Coogler and his team made the right call, but it’s interesting to hear that the U.N. scene came close to becoming the ending at one point in time.