Chadwick Boseman, star of Black Panther, Marshall, and 42, passed away this weekend.
We have posted on our social media accounts, but today we wanted to dive into the importance of Chadwick Boseman and the legacy he left behind. On Saturday evening it was revealed that Chadwick Boseman died due to colon cancer. Boseman had not revealed to the public that he was fighting cancer, and during that time he had become a household name after taking on the role of King T’Challa, aka Black Panther, in the MCU. While Boseman may be best known as the Black Panther, his legacy is much more than that.
Boseman’s first major feature role was in the film 42, a biopic of baseball player Jackie Robinson. Following 42 he would take on roles in the Kevin Costner led Draft Day, star as James Brown in the biopic Get on Up, portray the Egyptian deity Thoth in Gods of Egypt, and finally be cast as T’Challa for Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War. Boseman would also star in the Netflix film Message from the King, which he executive produced, before portraying Thurgood Marshall in the biopic Marshall. Overall, Boseman’s short film career was filled with roles which told one distinct message: black people have more stories to tell.
In interviews Boseman would explain that he found it important to choose the roles he portrayed, as he knew the weight and importance of a black man on the big screen. He was willing to fight for his characters to be portrayed with dignity. One of his first roles was on ABC’s long running soap opera All My Children, where he played a teen that was portrayed in a more “stereotypical” light. Boseman explained to The Wrap in 2019 that he was fired from the show when he spoke out against his character being portrayed in a way he did not approve of. After he was let go, the producers would hire his eventual Black Panther co-star Michael B. Jordan to replace him, and with the replacement the role did change somewhat.
Those actions and the choices he made in what roles he took are what made Boseman such an important figure. He knew that it was important for black people to be portrayed in a good light. He knew that it would take someone coming into a role and saying “this isn’t right” to change things. Boseman worked to make sure that his roles weren’t falling into unflattering stereotypes, and that each character he portrayed was real and had a depth to them. It is that wisdom and dignified grace that followed him in all his performances. These aspects of who he was as a person shined in every role he took part in.
These fundamental aspects of his character are also what makes it so hard to lose him right now. We are at a time in our society where there is a struggle to prove the importance of black lives. As we deal with this struggle, Boseman has been a ray of hope. He was a reminder to the general public that black people could be just as smart, wise, dignified, caring, and important as white people. He helped make Black Panther more than a film- a true cultural phenomenon. His lead helped turn the film into something that was not just a “black film” but a universal film. His performance showed everything that we chant in the streets as we try to fight injustice.
We are heartbroken to lose him, and no time would have ever been right to have to say goodbye. But having to do so now during this moment in our history when he was still so young hurts. We loved Chadwick Boseman, the work he did for his community, and the performances he gave us while he was here. We will cherish him for years to come, and we hope that his legacy continues to live on for decades. Our hearts are with his family and friends, and we hope that he has found peace in the next life.
Written by Alex Lancaster
(Alex is a life long film fan, and has dedicated his life to watching, making and obsessing over films. His favorite film is Big Fish, and he despises Avatar. He has a 6 year old son. And a bad habit of saying more than he needs to. Follow @alex5348 on Twitter)