LOS ANGELES - There will be only one T'Challa: Disney paid tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman Thursday by announcing that his pioneering role in "Black Panther" will not be recast in the sequel, as the company set out details of its upcoming Marvel superhero films and series.
Boseman died in August after a four-year battle with colon cancer, having never publicly discussed his condition, throwing the follow-up to one of the record-breaking Marvel films' most acclaimed movies into doubt.
"His portrayal of T'Challa the Black Panther is iconic and transcends any iteration of the character in any other medium from Marvel's past -- and it's for that reason that we will not recast the character," Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige told Disney's investor day.
But a planned sequel to the 2018 smash hit -- which saw Boseman play the first black superhero to get his own standalone film in the franchise -- will still go ahead using "all of the rich and varied characters introduced in the first film."
"To honor the legacy that Chad helped us build through his portrayal of the king of Wakanda, we want to continue to explore the world of Wakanda," with returning director Ryan Coogler "hard at work on the sequel now," added Feige.
The original "Black Panther," set in the fictional African kingdom of Wakanda, was adored by critics and audiences, becoming the first comic book film to be nominated for best picture at the Oscars and grossing over $1 billion worldwide.
The sequel is due in theaters in July 2022.
In a packed presentation covering more than 20 upcoming Marvel films and series, Feige announced that a new "Fantastic Four" movie will be directed by Jon Watts, who helped to reinvigorate the "Spider Man" films.
Disney acquired the movie rights to the "Fantastic Four" characters with its recent takeover of the rival Fox film studio, which had produced a 2015 flop based on the comic books.
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Among other Marvel film announcements, Christian Bale joins "Thor: Love and Thunder" as the sequel's villain, with filming due to start next month.
Samuel L Jackson reprises his role in the franchise for "Secret Invasion" on the Disney+ streaming service, which Feige hyped as "arguably the biggest crossover comic event in the last 20 years."
With Robert Downey Jr's popular Iron Man character having seemingly departed the Marvel films, "If Beale Street Could Talk" actress Dominique Thorne will star in new series "Ironheart" about a female genius inventor with an advanced suit of armor.
Marvel films veteran Don Cheadle will reprise his role for "Armor Wars," also a Disney+ series.
Amid fears Disney could emulate rival Warner Bros in sending next year's blockbusters straight to streaming, Feige confirmed the long-delayed "Black Widow" superhero movie starring Scarlett Johansson will "return to the big screen" in May.
At the start of Disney's investor day Kareem Daniel, head of the company's distribution unit, previewed plans to "release roughly 10 Marvel series, 10 'Star Wars' series" as well as 15 Disney series and 15 Disney films on Disney+ "over the next few years."
Disney also set out plans for a Pixar "origin story" for popular "Toy Story" character Buzz Lightyear, and a new "Sister Act" sequel with Whoopi Goldberg returning.
A new series based on the "Alien" films but set on Earth will be overseen by Noah Hawley ("Fargo") along with original director Ridley Scott, while "Hamilton" creator Lin-Manuel Miranda will pen songs for "Encanto," Disney's 60th animated film set in a Colombian world of magic realism.
© Agence France-Presse