Soon after learning that "Black Panther" star Chadwick Boseman had died at age 43, fans urged Marvel Studios not to recast the role, setting up a dilemma for the studio planning a sequel to Hollywood's first major superhero film with a predominantly Black cast.
Writers, academics and activists - speaking to Reuters about the film's cultural impact and Boseman's performance - believe Marvel and its parent company, Walt Disney Co, should honor Boseman's legacy with a storyline that anoints a new Black Panther from the film's existing cast or elsewhere in the Marvel Universe.
"They should really consider following the storyline of the comic book and advancing Letitia Wright (who plays Shuri, the tech genius sister of Boseman's character) into that central role," said Jamil Smith, a senior writer at Rolling Stone.
Many fans believe that replacing Boseman is simply not an option, suggesting that it would be disrespectful of the actor's memory. Instead the mantle should be taken by Shuri, just like the comic book.
Disney and Marvel declined to comment. According to a report in the Hollywood Reporter, executives were caught by surprise and few people were aware of Boseman's battle with cancer.