Friday night, August 28th 2020, we lost someone truly special. An Icon, a role model, a man that went way way way too soon. For this article, we would like to pay tribute Chadwick Boseman, the man who is so much more than, but will always be the one and only Black Panther.
Like so many others, I was checking Twitter one more time last night while climbing into bed, only to discover that Chadwick Boseman died yesterday after a four year struggle with colon cancer. To call this a shock would be an understatement. Again, like others, my first thought was: “I didn’t even know he was sick.” On one hand that is a ridiculous thing to think. Of course I wouldn’t know, it’s not like he and I exchanged text messages. We live in a time in which famous people, both those we love and those we hate, are more accessible than ever before in history, but as a pretty private person myself I respect Boseman’s decision to keep his cancer diagnosis to himself.
You may know that since the beginning of quarantine, I have been rewatching and recapping the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. In fact, I am late with my Avengers: Endgame write-up at this very moment. Chadwick Boseman first brought the character Black Panther to the MCU in Captain America: Civil War before starring in the title role shortly after in Black Panther. I said this in the “Black Panther” article but it bears repeating: the pressure on that movie was immense and unfair. People questioned whether a movie written by, directed by, and starring black creatives could be successful in the “mainstream” (in other words, “will white people see it?”). A lot of that pressure fell on Boseman, who we now know was fighting cancer while filming. “Black Panther” didn’t just need to break even, it needed to knock it out of the park to prove itself. And it did in a way that was unapologetically black. Boseman himself, realizing the significance of Wakanda’s history of never being colonized, even fought for T’Challa’s authentic African accent, rather than a British or American one. As a white guy I won’t ever understand what it means to not feel represented in pop culture. But I can watch the reactions of black fans and see that representation matters.
Chadwick Boseman wasn’t just an action star. I have focused on his Marvel role because that is my passion and my current project here at I Rebel, but obviously Boseman was a talented actor with more on his resume than Black Panther. In 2017 he portrayed Thurgood Marshall, the lawyer who helped win Brown v. Board of Education and who went on to serve as the first African-American justice on the Supreme Court. In 2013 he played Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to play Major League Baseball, in “42”. Jackie Robinson Day is traditionally celebrated by the MLB on the April 15, the day Robinson made his debut in 1947. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jackie Robinson Day was instead moved to yesterday, August 28, to commemorate the anniversary of The March on Washington. The Mets and Marlins walked off the field rather than play, leaving a “Black Lives Matter” jersey with the number 42 on home plate in honor of the progress made since Robinson’s debut and, more importantly, of the work we have left to do.
There’s plenty more words that I could say, but none would do justice to the tragedy. Chadwick Boseman put his talent on clear display, giving us films of the highest quality and excellence. I intend to celebrate him by rewatching the movies he made that I have loved and by watching some that I have never seen before.
I did not have to know much about Chadwick Boseman to feel a sense of loss when I read about his death. Seeing how his colleagues spoke about him, what his work meant to his fans, and how he used his power to uplift others, I knew enough. I am thankful that his diagnosis appears to have been kept out of public knowledge, so that he and his family could handle that experience in whatever private way they chose. I cannot help but be saddened by the state of the world being what it was when Chadwick left it, but let that be a lesson to us all to fight for change how we can, give our loved ones their flowers now, and strive to leave the world a better place. That’s what Chadwick Boseman did.
I do not even know where to begin. It has not even been 24 hours and I am still deeply sadden and emotional by the death of Chadwick Boseman.
I do not know much about Chad. Like many people, I was introduced to him in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. The moment he first appearance as T’challa, you knew he was made for the role. He owned the role like RDJ does as Tony, Christopher Reeves as Superman, Tom Holland as Peter Parker, etc. Chadwick’s performance in Civil War stands out as one of the defining characters from this film. He carried himself so well as T’challa, that you were brought into the emotion and path his character went on.
In 2018, Chad headlined the deeply impactful, successful, defining and one of the best films of all time… Black Panther. Everything that he did in Civil War was not only continued, but built upon. You connected with T’challa and those around him. Chad was responsible for you buying into T’challa and his story.
He continued in the role in Infinity War and Endgame. The former being a key role for the story and the later, leading the heroes return in one of the most emotional entrances of the film. Afterwards, he solidified himself as a key part of the MCU and its future.
Chadwick Boseman is a man who is much much much more then his role in the MCU films. He was a real life hero. A role model, an icon and a man who despite his own cancer, was a supporter of children who were also fighting cancer. I regret not knowing more of his work but I am glad I was touched by him in the MCU. I cry all the same for him. He will sorely be missed.
Chadwick Boseman, gone too soon. The world mourns your loss. Thank you, for what you gave to us. We will never forget you. You will always be in our hearts, and you will continue to inspire people for generations to come. Rest in Peace.