The Godfather indirectly influenced Black Panther’s superb ending


Black Panther originally had a different ending (one that’s still in the movie). But with a little help from The Godfather, the Black Panther team realized how to make the ending great.

Movie endings are just as prominent and impactful as the entire movie’s journey. And, in fact, movie endings are actually so impactful that if it were to flop, the whole movie could be ruined. The Sixth SenseCasablanca and The Godfather are all considered movies to have some of the best endings in movie history. In 2018, a newcomer for best film ending appeared: Black Panther.

There’s a reason to this addition, naturally. Black Panther didn’t amass a lot of hype over the past year for nothing. The movie was good. It was well thought-out, had brilliant actors, spoke to an underrepresented culture and did so much more. And all that just doesn’t come with the snap of a finger (sorry, Thanos). It takes hard work — hard work that Black Panther‘s co-editor explained took some rewrites and reshoots to get right… and even a little inspiration from The Godfather.

Speaking to Cinemablend, Black Panther editor Michael Shawver revealed that Black Panther‘s ending originally focused a bit more on Erik Killmonger than it did resolving T’Challa’s own journey. Shawver explained there was an extra line that Killmonger said that was powerful but didn’t quite fit right for the arc of movie:

"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."

According to Screen Rant, the final scene for the movie would have been what audiences saw midway through the credits. Following Killmonger’s death, we would have seen T’Challa addressing the United Nations to let them know Wakanda would be opening its borders. And though that was an integral scene to have, it didn’t quite complete the hero’s journey and left something missing. That’s why Coogler and the team went back to the drawing board to figure out how to neatly wrap things up.

For them, Shawver reveals that she and Coogler ended up watching YouTube videos on filmmaking and researching the best movie endings. They found the best movies either had twist endings, like The Sixth Sense, or came full circle like The Godfather. She explained:

"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."

With that in mind, Coogler buckled down to pen the final ending of the movie. And thus, we got the powerful scene where T’Challa and Shuri head to Oakland, California — Killmonger’s birthplace and the place the movie opens on — to share that Wakanda would be giving back to the neighborhood in a multitude of ways.

The ending makes perfect sense in hindsight, seeing as it not only completes T’Challa’s character arc, but Killmonger’s as well. As a villain who we know had good intentions but bad actions, Killmonger still deserved some sort of conclusion. We saw that part of his vision could have been met, all through goodwill and harmony. It was a lesson T’Challa learned as well, and the ending tugged on the heartstrings of the audience that watched and saw the sun rise on a new beginning for Wakanda.

Now that awards season is in full swing, Shawver’s story about creating the movie’s ending seems to be enough proof already that Black Panther is an Oscar-worthy movie. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Black Panther isn’t just your average superhero movie. Just like any other Oscar winner, it was a movie that was artfully crafted with great producers, costume designers, editors, set designers, actors and, of course, one brilliant director.

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If all of the above doesn’t count as enough credit to get the movie recognition from the Oscars, then there’s really no one else but the Academy at fault. We have just about a week to go until Oscars nominations are announced, but, thankfully, Black Panther has already received plenty of recognition this awards season. The Oscars, naturally, would just be the icing on the cake.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correctly attribute quotes to Michael Shawver from Cinemablend.