Black Panther forever: Remembering Chadwick Boseman
Today marks the first death anniversary of Chadwick Boseman, who was best known for his role as King T'Challa in Marvel Studios' "Black Panther". He was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer in 2016, and after a four-year fight, he passed away at the age of 43.
In 2018, Boseman got his groundbreaking role in "Black Panther". It marked the first time that a black superhero led an individual film. Prior to that, the actor made his debut as T'Challa in "Captain America: Civil War". Later, he appeared in "Avengers: Infinity War" and "Avengers: Endgame".
"Black Panther" was a watershed moment in cinema. It made box-office records, and became the first superhero movie to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Through T'Challa, Boseman instilled hope and courage into young minds. His "Wakanda Forever" chant will continue to be a revolutionary cry forevermore.
Early in his acting career, Boseman was afraid of falling into the trap of playing stereotypical roles. He had an appetite for playing characters that added value to the world. It wasn't a few years down the road when he got his big break, with the role of Jackie Robinson in "42". Boseman pulled off a remarkable job by adding complexity to the valiant baseball player without pigeonholing him as a dull persona.
For "Get on Up", Boseman went through two months of intensive training to emote soul icon James Brown's extraordinary voice, showmanship, and footwork. His palpable acting shines through the symbiosis between the storytelling and tour de performance he delivered in this spectacular film.
Boseman dedicated himself to emulate the civil rights titan Thurgood Marshall --his third time playing a legendary African-American figure -- for the 2017 movie "Marshall". Besides acting, Boseman was also the producer for his action movie "21 Bridges", where he worked with the director to shape the character he played.
He starred in "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" as a charming trumpeter who gets blindsided by an industry dominated by white people. Although Boseman was battling cancer during the shooting of the 2020 film "Da 5 Bloods", he never revealed it publicly.
The second episode of Marvel's animated series, "What If…?" was the last time Boseman reprised his electrifying role as T'Challa. His next project was supposed to be the sequel to "Black Panther", due in 2022.
In the last few months before his untimely demise, Boseman engaged in activism, including the Black Lives Matter movement and raising money for African American communities hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Sometimes you need to get knocked down before you can really figure out what your fight is, and how you need to fight it," Boseman said in his commencement speech to the class of 2018 at the Howard University. "When I dared to challenge the system that would relegate us to victims and stereotypes with no clear historical backgrounds, no hopes or talents…when I questioned that method of portrayal, a different path opened up for me - the path to my destiny."
Boseman had many talents, including drawing, sculpting, writing, playing basketball, and of course, acting. It is safe to say that the artiste, like the Black historical trailblazers he played on screen, would have been a quintessential idol at any point of the cultural timeline.
The author is a freelance journalist.