Updated: Sep 5, 2020
Moviegoers of all ages and ethnicities were thrilled when Marvel debuted the official Black Panther trailer on June 9, 2017. I for one had goosebumps all over my skin as I watched the trailer on that warm day in Atlanta, Georgia. It was so exciting that Black Panther was going to get his first standalone film since his debut fighting alongside The Avengers in Civil War and even more I was struck with pride as I watched the beautiful representation of black/African people shown in such prestige. It was a defining moment for the entire world even if you weren't a comic book fan or into Marvel films. The actor who was blessed to bring this character to life was Chadwick Boseman.
Chadwick Boseman was born on November 29, 1976 and was raised in Anderson, South Carolina. From an early age he had his sights set on visual arts and entertainment. He started out writing stage plays with hopes of being a director, but it was the acting that really took off for him. He initially took acting classes to further understand how actors operated so he could direct them with precision.
He was also a standout student at Howard University studying under the legend, Phylicia Rashad best known for her role as the loving and stern mother on the The Cosby Show. He then went on to graduate from Howard University with a Bachelors Degree of Fine Arts in directing which then led him to travel all the way to London to further his studies. That trip to London was later noted that Denzel Washington was one of his sponsors. Once he returned back to the states he made Brooklyn, N.Y. his home where he went back to study at the Digital Film Academy and taught drama classes to get by. New York is known for incredible stage plays, but Los Angeles is known for an incredible film world so in 2008 Chadwick moved to L.A. to pursue his Hollywood career.
Boseman started making his mark in the television world appearing on hit shows such as: E.R., Cold Case, Lincoln Heights, Justified, Law&Order, CSI, but it was in 2013 when he broke into his first leading role in the movie, 42 the biopic of the first major league baseball player, Jackie Robinson. Then Chadwick slowly became Hollywood's "it" guy when it came to
casting an African - American lead. Appearing in movies such as: Draft Day alongside Kevin Costner, starring in two more biopics: Marshall and Get On Up, and not to mention a slightly flamboyant role in Gods of Egypt. Then in 2014 at a Marvel convention Chadwick set the internet on fire when Robert Downey Jr. alongside Chris Evans announced to the world that Chadwick Boseman will be the Black Panther. Everything changed for him after that.
Two years later Chadwick Boseman made a phenomenal appearance as the Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War. You could feel his tremendous screen presence as the camera pushed in on him during his establishing shot where he was looking over a railing. I personally remember sitting in the theater and hearing people cheering on his entrance. You just knew Marvel had made the perfect choice with casting him. And the fight scenes he had were remarkable. Some argue that he "stole the show." Whatever the case was he had audiences wanting more of him. Well, two years after his debut the audience received their wish as the Black Panther solo movie was released.
It was ground breaking in every way. It had been years since the world had seen a major black superhero leading a film. Not since Wesley Snipes in Blade. The entire cast were elite level actors including Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger (The villain you hate to love). Lupita Nyong'o as T'Challa's girlfriend. (T'Challa is Black Panther's name outside of his high tech suit). The film also starred Forest Whitaker, Angela Basset, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Andy Serkis, Sterling K. Brown, and was led by a fresh, young, black director by the name of Ryan Coogler. The movie was a pure recipe for success and a SUCCESS it was! The film broke box office records as being one of the highest grossing films of all-time. The world was clearly ready for a new-age black superhero.
Chadwick Boseman had reached a level of global fame we don't think he could have ever imagined for himself. He had the whole world shouting, "Wakanda Forever!" He then went on to star in two more Marvel films even though he was slated for five. Each of the films continuing to break world records in ticket sales. But with the good came with some of the "bad". There were rumors swirling around that Chadwick was not going to return to play T'Challa in any upcoming Marvel expansions nor lead in the sequel to Black Panther. Some were saying that there were contractual issues when it came to his pay. Then in April of 2020 Chadwick took to his Instagram account and released a video in honor of the late Jackie Robinson.
Fans noticed that Chadwick's physical appearance looked dramatically different compared to how they normally viewed their strong hero. Chadwick had lost a lot of weight. So much that he looked sick. The internet began doing what the internet does best, started making jokes and creating cruel memes about his current state. Some speculated that he lost the weight because he was preparing for a role, but nothing was confirmed from Boseman or his team. Instead, they just took the video down. Then the unthinkable happened.
On Friday, August 28, 2020 Chadwick Boseman was announced dead. It turns out that the Black Panther star was sick. He was stricken with colon cancer and had been allegedly battling the disease for at least 4 years. So through all the movies and appearances he was making he was fighting a silent battle. Chadwick brought joy and lots of hope to people. His smile made you smile. You knew deep down he was one of the good guys. He was raised in the Christian faith and it was his faith that he said helped him land the colossal role of the Black Panther. When he wasn't in front of the camera he was an advocate for civil rights and reaching out to cancer stricken youth who found strength from witnessing him as the Black Panther. Boseman took his last breath beside his loving wife and his family by his side.
Who knows how much further Chadwick could have gone in his career and personal journey, but one thing that we can say is that he left behind a tremendous legacy and a wonderful superhero for the next generation to look up to forever. We say thank you to Chadwick Boseman and Long Live The King... Wakanda Forever!!