Just when it felt like there would be some time to recover from the emotional bludgeoning that was Avengers: Infinity War, two pretty heavy deleted scenes from February’s smash hit Black Panther made it onto the internet ahead of the film’s home release on May 15th.
The first scene is of Zuri and T’challa having a heart to heart after the latter wakes up from his first heart-shaped-herb coma as king. T’challa has just visited his father on a kind of Wakandan ancestral plane and, for the first time ever, the reality and pressure of not his inheritance hit him like a runaway train.
“My whole life I would watch him wearing the suit…” T’challa says to Zuri — a former warrior turned royal-gardener and confidant — before asking him what exactly made his father King T’chaka change his views on trusting the outside world. Zuri replies “time,” and how “it has a way of making you look back at the things you’ve done.”
T’challa subtly expresses how he feels responsible for his father’s death at the UN during Captain America: Civil War after explaining how invincible his dad seemed before he grew too old to wear the Black Panther suit. The kicker is that T’challa is still idealizing his dad at this moment. He has no clue that T’chaka murdered Killmonger’s father (T’challa’s uncle) and abandoned the little boy to suffer alone in America—but Zuri, who watched the whole thing happen, does.
Though the audience wouldn’t have known it at that point in the film, Zuri’s line about time becomes a lot more impactful because of how regret and fierce loyalty can often overlap in really undesirable ways.
Regret is a major theme of the second deleted scene as well. Okoye, the head of the Dora Milaje, and W’Kabi, T’challa’s former best friend, are seen having a serious marital dispute after Killmonger presumably kills T’challa by throwing him off of a waterfall. As a Dora, Okoye is sworn to protect the king, even if the king is Killmonger — a guy who’s ideologically “right”, but manages to be an enormous asshole about it.
Having been loyal to T’challa and his family for years, Okoye is naturally conflicted about the new agenda, and angry with her husband W’Kabi for not standing behind T’challa. W’Kabi embraces the new future because T’challa failed to kill Klaw (Andy Serkis) earlier in the film, and in doing so failed to avenge W’Kabi’s parents. It’s a pretty tense moment in which they both have a right to feel exactly how they do.
There will undoubtedly be more deleted scenes dropping in the next couple of weeks, let’s hope the next few don’t leave us sniffling too hard.