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Devastating news sent seismic shocks through Hollywood on Friday evening as Chadwick Boseman died at age 43 following a battle with stage 4 colon cancer. The Black Panther star had been struggling with the illness for the past four years, according to an emotional post on his Twitter feed. According to the post, Boseman died at home with his wife and family by his side.
It didn’t take long for Hollywood to react to this tragic and stunning loss. Social media flooded with tributes to this young man who had touched so many lives with his performances. Actors, producers and directors who were lucky enough to collaborate with Chadwick Boseman over the years celebrated his dedication, his craft, and his triumphant spirit. So many comments traced back to his work as King T’Challa, the benevolent ruler of Wakanda, in Marvel’s Black Panther:
And it was the importance of the representation Chadwick Boseman’s performance personified that struck a chord with so many African-American fans, and beyond. For countless fans, they saw in T’Challa something they didn’t get to see nearly as often in a blockbuster. A Black superhero. And it was life-affirming:
This staggering irony was not lost on some, especially in the athletic community. Chadwick Boseman was blessed to play baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson in the biopic 42. The day that baseball honors Robinson for his contributions also happens to be the day that Hollywood loses Boseman to his tragic illness.
While many now have come to realize that while Chadwick Boseman was battling cancer, he was continuing to create memorable work in movies like Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods, 21 Bridges, and the one-two punch of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.
You can’t overstate the importance of the work that Chadwick Boseman did during his time on this Earth, and in this industry. The native South Carolinian played significant historical figures, and superheroes. His revolutionary turn as Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe continued to kick open a door for heroes of all colors in the superhero genre. The impact of Ryan Coogler’s Oscar-winning movie, and the battle cry “Wakanda forever,” left Boseman’s stamp on our culture. The memory of his accomplishments will live on for decades behind the day he left us.
Rest in Power, King.