We have some deeply sad news to report tonight. Chadwick Boseman, one of the brightest talents of his generation, has passed away at the age of 43 following a four-year battle with colon cancer. The news came as a shock to many, who were surprised that the actor was even ill, let alone diagnosed with an illness in 2016 only to rule the box office the following year with Black Panther.
His official Twitter account provided news of Boseman’s passing.
I’m honestly stunned by this news, not only because we had no idea he was fighting cancer, but because he was still at the beginning of an amazing career. Boseman broke out big with his memorable performance as Jackie Robinson in 42, a daunting role for any actor, but Boseman, with his mixture of athleticism, poise, and intensity, completely owned the role. He continued to roll from terrific performance to terrific performance with a scene-stealing performance in Draft Day (“Vontae Mack no matter what”) before tackling another icon as James Brown in Get On Up. Later he would play yet another giant of American history by portraying Thurgood Marshall in Marshall. And then there’s his performance in Gods of Egypt, which isn’t a good movie, but he seems to be the only one in the cast who knows how ridiculous it is and plays the role accordingly. The movie is worth watching just for him.
Of course, the role he’ll likely be remembered for above all is as Black Panther. I remember when Marvel announced Captain America: Civil War, and they brought out Boseman on stage to reveal that he was cast as Black Panther, and the crowd went wild because they knew he was such a major talent. And that faith was rewarded not just with Civil War but in particular the groundbreaking Black Panther. We all expected that we’d get years and years of Boseman playing T’Challa and see him get to craft the role like other actors who have had their own superhero franchises.
Ultimately, the role will always be his. Months or maybe even over a year from now, Marvel will have to recast and move forward on Black Panther II, but the role belongs to Boseman. He crafted it, defined it, and now all others will be in his shadow. When you hear “Wakanda Forever!” you will always hear it in Boseman’s voice first.
Our deepest condolences go out to Boseman’s family and friends.