Chadwick Boseman, who died of colon cancer at the age of 43, is best-known for playing the titular superhero in the 2018 film Black Panther. The film’s portrayal of a heroic group of people hailing from the fictional African kingdom of Wakanda made it a culturally significant event.
Besides grossing over $1.3 billion worldwide according to reports, Black Panther became the first Marvel superhero film to win an Academy Award, catapulting Boseman to stardom and making the film’s catchphrase “Wakanda forever” a hit.
Following news of Boseman’s death, Twitter flowed with tearful tributes and throwbacks. Many of these looked at the massive influence of Black Panther, including a moving video in which Boseman shared his experience interacting with children ailing from terminal cancer during the release of Black Panther.
According to his family’s statement, Boseman had been diagnosed with cancer in 2016. He shot Black Panther and other productions while undergoing treatment.
Boseman’s career was built on portrayals of real-life African American figures who fought racism in all forms. The first among these films was 42 (2013), in which Boseman played Jackie Robinson, the first African American in Major League Baseball, the highest level at which baseball is played in the United States of America.
The next year, Boseman played the flamboyant soul and funk singer James Brown in the biopic Get On Up.
In 2017, Boseman played the first African American Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in Marshall. The biopic focused on one of Marshall’s earliest cases, in which an African American chauffeur Joseph Spell (Sterling K Brown) is accused of raping a White woman. Spell was found not guilty.
Boseman’s last starring role was in Spike Lee’s 2020 Netflix film Da 5 Bloods. Boseman played Norman, the leader of a squad of African American soldiers fighting the Vietnam war. Boseman’s final film Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom takes a look at the exploitation of Black artists by White music producers in 1920s Chicago. It will be released on Netflix.