One of the greatest challenges of any ongoing production is what to do when a major cast member dies. Marvel Studios definitely has a significant challenge in developing Black Panther in the MCU. His actor Chadwick Boseman passed away in mid-2020, though not before finishing some last voice-work in Disney+’ “What If…?” The LEGO “Ninjago” animated series tackled the same problem when Cole’s voice actor Kirby Morrow also died last year. True, he completed his own voice-work for the seasons that released this 2021. But after those seasons finished, now what? Is Cole going to disappear? Become mute? Get recast?
Brick Fanatics reports that “Ninjago” show-runner Tommy Andreasen released a statement concerning Cole’s future in the series. The late Kirby Morrow gave the Black Ninja of Earth a distinctive voice. Next, Cole is a main character. Finally, the LEGO theme and its animated adaptation are cleared to continue until at least 2023. The options the production had for Cole were to write him out, reuse past-season dialogue, strike him mute, or recast. Ultimately they opted to give Cole a new voice courtesy of Andrew Francis, taking over in seasons starting 2022. Francis previously voiced Elemental Master Shade and the Ghost Morro from previous “Ninjago” seasons.
“We hope you will greet and support Andrew and welcome him with open arms and a hearty NIINJAAAAA-GO!” says Andreasen in his statement. “We are confident we made the best possible choice and the voice recordings for 2022 has crystalized our faith completely in Andrew as a worthy successor to Kirby.” The Danish-Canadian co-production will ease Francis into the role, starting with several “Ninjago” shorts airing in 2022, then moving onto the next full season.