Actor Chadwick Boseman, who played the lead role in the multiple Oscar-winning movie “Black Panther”, is no more.
Boseman had been battling colon cancer privately since 2016 and died at home with his family and wife by his side, according to a statement posted on his Twitter account. He was 43.
1. Revolutionary Roles
The actor played revolutionary characters of both Hollywood and American history — all while quietly undergoing treatment for the cancer that took his life at age 43.
According to this timeline, he was diagnosed in 2016 which was also the year he debuted as King T’Challa in Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War.
After his diagnosis, Boseman filmed and appeared in Marshall, Black Panther, two more Avengers movies, 21 Bridges, Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods, and an upcoming adaptation of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
Reaction to Boseman’s death was swift and profound. Both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, the Democratic candidates for President and Vice President, expressed their condolences on Twitter.
2. Wakanda King? T’Challa
The actor won praise worldwide for his first appearance as Black Panther in 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War,” which made expectations for the impending debut of “Black Panther” — the first-ever Marvel Studios movie headlined by a Black actor — much greater.
“Black Panther” grossed over $1.3 billion worldwide!
The film was the first ever movie from the Marvel franchise to be nominated for the Academy Awards for best picture and six other nominations and winning three.
As Black Panther, Boseman presented to the world an image of a powerful and thoughtful Black man who was the leader of a thriving African nation and a superhero willing to race into whatever battle he felt was worth fighting, no matter the odds.
Black Panther, the king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda, was the first African superhero in American comics, a milestone figure created in the 1960s. But Boseman’s performance in the four Marvel movies boosted the character to a total global celebrity.
And though Ryan Coogler’s film is filled with visual invention, dense world-building, and memorable supporting turns, it is rooted in Boseman’s gravitas, in his ability to project authority and power.
3. Black Pride
At a time when Black Lives Matter protests have subsumed American city streets, the likes of Black artists like Boseman who carved a niche for themselves in predominantly white industries, are nothing short of heroes. But Boseman’s struggle against racism goes longer back in time.
In high school, he was a serious basketball player but made a final turn toward storytelling after a friend and teammate were tragically shot and killed.
Boseman processed his thoughts and emotions by writing what he eventually realized was a play. When it was time to consider colleges, he chose an arts program at Howard University, with a dream of becoming a director.
Crediting his older brother Kevin, a professional dancer, for his interest in the arts, Boseman said:
“There’s no way in the world I would have thought, ‘O.K. let me write this play’ if it wasn’t for him Ultimately, I’m here because of what he did.”Chadwick Boseman
In later years, given a pop taxonomy of black male nobility, he was cut squarely from the mould of Barack Obama — generally cool-blooded, affable, devoted to unglamorous fundamentals.
Brian Helgeland, the writer and director of “42,” the Jackie Robinson movie that gave Boseman his breakout role, once said the actor reminded him of sturdy, self-assured icons of 1970s virility, like Gene Hackman and Clint Eastwood.
Lupita Nyong’o, Boseman’s co-star and love interest in “Black Panther,” described his career choices as those of a socially conscious history buff.
She recalled a working session with the film’s director, Ryan Coogler, and Boseman that he turned into a mini-lecture on ancient Egyptian iconography and spiritual customs that had influenced the original comic book.
“He’s very keen to put human experiences in historical context. Even with a world that was make-believe, he wanted to connect it to the world that we know and could try to understand.”Lupita Nyong’o
Soon after Black Panther happened, Boseman returned to his alma mater, Washington DC’s Howard University, in 2018 to give the commencement speech.
In his address, he told the graduates about his early days acting on soap operas, saying he was fired from an unnamed production after he questioned what he felt was its stereotypical portrayal of Black characters.
“The struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose.”Chadwick Boseman
4. Late Bloomer
Given his stature today, it may be surprising to recall that Boseman didn’t land a significant movie role until he was in his mid-30s.
A graduate of Howard University and the British American Drama Academy, he mostly appeared in one-off parts on television until he was cast as baseball legend Jackie Robinson in the 2013 biopic 42.
The only other person who had played Robinson in a movie before was Robinson himself, and yet here was a virtually unknown person taking on the part with confidence and grace.
So much of the film, directed by Brian Helgeland, deals with Robinson’s struggle to control his anger as he’s subject to racist abuse by fans and players, and Boseman’s performance simmers with heroic restraint.
He was born the youngest of three boys and raised in Anderson, S.C., by his mother, who worked as a nurse, and father, who worked in a textile factory.
When he was a junior in high school, Boseman wrote and staged a play about the shooting death of a basketball teammate, which turned his life towards the arts. He studied directing at Howard University, where he was mentored by Phylicia Rashad.
After moving to New York, Boseman was a part of the local theater scene, and began landing guest roles on shows like “Law & Order,” “CSI: NY” and “ER,” as well as a series regular part on the NBC mystery “Persons Unknown.”
Boseman’s first big break, however, came when he was cast in “42” to play Jackie Robinson, the first Black man to play in Major League Baseball.
Poignantly, Boseman’s death is on the same day as Jackie Robinson Day, MLB’s annual celebration of the pioneer player.
The actor’s work as Brown on Get On Up is particularly astonishing; Boseman captures all of the singer’s live-wire onstage energy, doing all of his own dancing and some of his singing.
Perhaps the biggest achievement is how the performance felt a million miles away from his work as Robinson. Boseman played one of the 20th century’s most famous athletes and one of its greatest singers within a single year and had mastered two performances that could not have been more different.
It’s crushing to consider, but Boseman’s legacy will be the incredible body of work he created in just seven years: a catalogue of heroic figures similarly frozen in time, to be remembered forever.
Tributes from all quarters of American life started pouring in as soon as the news of Boseman’s death, and the secret struggle with cancer prior to it, broke.
Boseman “brought history to life” with his roles, Martin Luther King III said.
“As Black Panther, he was also a superhero to many. And despite his 4 year long battle with cancer, he kept fighting and he kept inspiring. He will be missed.”Martin Luther King III, Twitter
Presidential candidate Joe Biden was also quick to condole the star’s death.
Meanwhile, Sen. Kamala Harris, who also attended Howard, said she was heartbroken over Boseman’s death.
“My friend and fellow Bison Chadwick Boseman was brilliant, kind, learned, and humble. He left too early but his life made a difference. Sending my sincere condolences to his family.”Sen. Kamala Harris, Twitter
Actor Mark Ruffalo, who starred aside Boseman in the Marvel movies as the Hulk, said the death adds to the growing list of tragedies in 2020.
“What a man, and what an immense talent. Brother, you were one of the all time greats and your greatness was only beginning. Lord love ya. Rest in power, King.”Mark Ruffalo, Twitter
Marvel studios were also among the official Twitter handles who mourned the death of a valued star who left too soon.Originally Written By Epic Dope