Black Panther actor Chadwick Boseman passed away on Friday at the age of 43 after a long illness. His family was by his side.
Boseman’s Instagram account confirmed his death from colon cancer in an announcement to millions of his grieving fans this afternoon. He had been battling cancer for about four years and continued to work after undergoing numerous surgeries and chemotherapy to rid his body of the cancer. Over the past four years the cancer progressively worsened from stage three to stage four.
Boseman was very private about his personal life. He did not publicly announce his illness and left many in shock with the news. His wife and a parent were by his side when he passed away.
Underneath a black and white photo of the actor flashing a wide smile, the statement said, “It is with immeasurable grief that we confirm the passing of Chadwick Boseman.
Chadwick was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016, and battled with it these last 4 years as it progressed to stage IV.
A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much. From Marshall to Da 5 Bloods, August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and several more, all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy.”
He played numerous roles in biographies of real life superheroes on screen, notably the colour-barrier breaking baseball player Jackie Robinson in 42, soul singing music legend James Brown in Get on Up, and Thurgood Marshall, the civil rights attorney who became the first African American justice in the US Supreme Court in Marshall.
Boseman first appeared in the role of T’Challa in the film Captain America: Civil War in 2016, then later he played the same character in Avengers: Infinity Wars, and in the blockbuster release Black Panther. As the namesake superhero he fought to assume leadership of the fictional paradise of Wakanda. As king of Wakanda, his “Wakanda Forever” salute would become entrenched in popular culture.
The post said, “It was the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther. “
In an interview with Associated Press after the film’s release, Boseman said he didn’t think the world was socially and politically ready for a Black Panther movie before that time.
Black Panther showcased an Afrofuturistic vision of a civilization where Black people were economically independent, technologically advanced and untouched by colonization. However, the movie itself broke many records and social barriers. Audiences around the world welcomed the mostly Black cast. Many attended the film wearing African-inspired attire based on the costumes and body markings worn by the characters. It was the first time that a Marvel movie gambled on a predominantly Black cast of characters in a film. It paid off. The studio invested $200 million in production and the film earned $1.3 billion at the box office, globally. Black Panther is the only Marvel Studios film to receive an Oscar nomination for best picture. The studio also announced a sequel.
Black Panther won Best Ensemble at the 2019 Screen Actors Guild Award. Boseman quoted Nina Simone during his acceptance speech: “To be young, gifted and black.”
He stayed grounded and spoke the truth about his experience as an actor after he became a Hollywood star.
“You don’t have the same exact experience as a Black actor as you do as a white actor. You don’t have the same opportunities. That’s evident and true,” he told AP while promoting “42.” “The best way to put it is: How often do you see a movie about a black hero who has a love story … he has a spirituality. He has an intellect …”
He played a wide cast of diverse characters with complex personalities, who made a difference in fiction and in real life and gave us a glimpse of what is possible for African Americans, people of African heritage and dreamers around the world. In doing so, he created more opportunities for many.
“The family thanks you for your love and prayers, and asks that you continue to respect their privacy during this difficult time.“
The African American performer was loved by many across the globe. “The world has lost an immeasurable talent and a great person,” writes Avengers franchise actor Chris Pratt on Instagram, one of 374,000 comments, 9.2 million likes and close to 9 million followers.
Boseman is all of the top nine trending topics on Twitter just hours after the announcement. Academy Award-winning actress Viola Davis, who was his co-star in Get on Up and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom tweeted:
“Chadwick…..no words to express my devastation of losing you. Your talent, your spirit, your heart, your authenticity……..It was an honor working beside you, getting to know you….Rest well prince…May flights of angels sing thee to thy heavenly rest. I love you! (three yellow heart emojis)”
“This is a crushing blow” actor and director Jordan Peele said on Twitter.
“This broke me,” said actor and writer Issa Rae.
Actor Chris Evans, Captain America, said Boseman was “a true original. He was a deeply committed and constantly curious artist. He had so much amazing work still left to create.”
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden tweeted that Boseman “inspired generations and showed them they can be anything they want — even super heroes.”