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Black Panther Editor Says One Deleted Line Resulted in Complete Change to Ending

January 17, 2019 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Black Panther Chadwick Boseman

The co-editor for Black Panther has revealed that trhe ending to the film completely changed due to a line that isn’t in the film. Michael Shawver spoke with CinemaBlend for a new interview discussing how reshoots changed the film and discussed how the ending drastically changed.

According to Shawver, the original ending was the United Nations scene that serves as the mid-credits stinger. However, he, his co-editor Debbie Berman, and director Ryan Coogler realized that the ending didn’t quite work for a specific reason.

“With reshoots Ryan wanted to do a new ending, and it’s a whole bigger thing with the scene where Killmonger dies,” he said. “What we shot originally, and in the script, was Killmonger saying ‘It’s beautiful, but what are you going to do for everybody in the world who can’t see this?’… And it was great. It was powerful, it was awesome, but it was problematic for a few reasons. One, we realized that just as a character, for the journey of T’Challa, he can’t get the answer to the movie and what he needs to do from the villain – like straight-up exactly what he needs. And that’s kind of what was happening. Secondly, it was a great performance, and [Michael B. Jordan] brought it, and it was painful to watch because you kind of don’t want this guy to die, but it didn’t fit his character.”

Shawver said that they went back and watched some of the best endings in film history, noting, “we found in a lot of these videos it was one of two things: it was either the twist ending… or it was The Godfather… Basically, the first time you meet Michael, he’s with Kay and he’s telling her he’s not like his family. ‘That’s not me, Kay. That’s them.’ The last scene we see him, he’s telling Kay he’s not like his family… But then he walks and the door shuts, and you know everything is different. But it’s the same conversation! And so it’s the circular nature why those kinds of endings feel like closure even though it’s open-ended.”

That led Coogler to write the new ending, which takes the film back to Killmonger’s home of Oakland where the movie began. Shawver said, “Basically, him showing them that, and buying those buildings, and the Wakandan Outreach Program was in spirit what originally we had Killmonger tell him. ‘If people can just see this. If people can see their own potential then things would be different.’ And so that was done in a new scene where we see what T’Challa has done. And then at the very, very, very end, the last line is that kid looking at him and saying, ‘Who are you?’ And that is the theme of the movie, of identity. Who are you? And he doesn’t need to answer it, because he just answered it for us.”