How do you create a Black Panther sequel without the Black Panther? Chadwick Boseman’s death made it difficult for my children to imagine what might happen next in a movie series that had lost its signature superhero.
Grief and new beginnings play central roles in the movie, as each character and the whole community struggle with loss and change. Use one or more of these activities to help children explore what Wakanda beliefs and practices might teach them about spirituality.
Funeral rituals. The movie depicts two different kinds of funerals. In the opening scenes, Queen Ramonda, Shuri, and others wear white to T’Challa’s remembrance service and then accompany the body through the streets while people sing and dance. Namor observes his mother’s death differently. Her last wish is to be returned to her homeland for burial, and he wraps her in cloth after placing a stone in her mouth. Ask children: What was interesting to you about the funerals? Which parts confused you? Invite them to research other funeral practices.
Silent witnesses. The Marvel title intro silently plays images of the Black Panther, evoking a sense of reverence as the entire audience observes a moment of silence for Chadwick Boseman and the Black Panther. Silence is often used as a way to show respect for those who have died or to mark other solemn events. Encourage children to think of someone or something important to them that they want to honor and remember. Then suggest that they sit in silence for a few minutes and picture that person or event in their head.
Grief responses. Shuri and Queen Ramonda handle their sadness over T’Challa’s death differently. Shuri throws herself into her work, rarely leaving her lab. Ramonda pays attention to her grief. Eventually the two spend time together at a lake sitting with their emotions beside a lake. Encourage children to reenact this scene. They might quietly reflect on how they feel when something bad happens or have an imaginary conversation in which they share their feelings about loss and death.
Belief debates. Shuri struggles to appreciate the rituals and religious practices of her culture. She finds science to be more believable and comforting. Shuri’s mother shares how she finds comfort in her traditional beliefs. Talk with children about how people can find both science and religion helpful. Ask: How does science comfort Shuri? How can science comfort us in our grief? How does religion comfort Shuri’s mother? How can the practices of our culture or religion comfort us in our grief?
Black Panther rises again. Shuri is a different Black Panther than T’Challa. She becomes the superhero through invention, not sacred ritual. She sees a different ancestor in her dream and needs a different suit and mask. Ask children: What type of Black Panther would you be? Who do you imagine you would see in your dream? Invite them to draw their own Black Panther mask that represents how they would fulfill the role.