The world got a little darker this evening as news broke globally about the sudden and unfortunate passing of Chadwick Boseman, who died of colon cancer. He was 43 years old.
Most of us reading (and writing) this blog know about the man behind the myth of T’Challa or Black Panther. Chadwick Boseman was commanding as the Prince, and later King, of Wakanda. We watched this gentle giant among heroes become one of the leading Avengers against the terror of Thanos.
What is most surprising about this horrendous news is that while he was performing all that action and all those stunts, his insides were riddled with toxins battling the real enemy — cancer.
For four years, Chadwick Boseman fought the bravest fight. He kept children smiling who never saw themselves in a super hero. Boseman allowed people to relive memories of their greatest idols–James Brown, Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall.
And all the while, he was dealing with the harrowing news that he was sick or maybe, something worse. His last movie was almost prophetic. In Spike Lee’s Netflix triumph Da 5 Bloods, he played ‘Stormin Norman’, a ghost and a memory that inspired (and in some ways, haunted) Delroy Lindo’s ‘Paul’. Who knew, besides Boseman, that could be his last film and all we would have are memories of his remarkable acting career?
Chadwick Boseman: Wakanda Will Be Forever
Shortly after his death, Chadwick Boseman’s family released this statement:
It is with immeasurable grief that we confirm the tragic 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. It was the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther. He died in his home, with his wife and family by his side.Boseman Family
When you see his weight loss, he was startling for so many fans. Of course, this is Hollywood. The committed actors put their bodies through toil and trouble for the undertaking of an important role.
This particular physical transformation was alarming to fans, but yet still Boseman put on a brave face when he posted this video on Instagram. Mostly everyone convinced themselves he was doing it for acting. Only, it was no act.
Of course, Da 5 Bloods was coming. He played a Vietnam soldier, so yeah. That had to be it. At least, we wanted that to be it because that was Chadwick Boseman. He played Black Panther and all those other amazing black heroes of culture and civil rights. That man has to be protected and safe. Or maybe, it was another project, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, another biopic for his career playing opposite Viola Davis as musician Ma Rainey from the late 1920s.
Boseman had not spoken publicly about his diagnosis or his plight. He wanted people to focus on his skill and acting. That was his gift to us.
Think about this:
When did Boseman make his initial appearance as Black Panther? It was in Captain America: Civil War. The year was 2016. The same year he was diagnosed with Stage III colon cancer!
Don’t ever let it be said that Chadwick Boseman was not destined to be T’Challa. He fought demons, enemies, and poison to bring him to reality. And to this day, there are children and adults who have never seen a more powerful black superhero than he portrayed. And they never will.
Knowing what we know now… Boseman never “portrayed” a hero. He just was one.