The Life and Legacy of Real-Life Superhero Chadwick Boseman

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Devin Spizz, Contributing Writer

On Aug. 28, 2020, actor Chadwick Boseman tragically passed away due to colon cancer at the age of 43.  Boseman was best known for his role as King T’Challa of Wakanda in Black Panther, which became a worldwide phenomenon in 2018 grossing over $1.3 billion. 

Born and raised in Anderson, South Carolina, Boseman attended Howard University, where he originally thought he wanted to write and direct.  In 2008, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue his acting career.

“He died at such a young age and he was fighting for so long, it is crazy to believe that he battled the illness during his films,” said freshman Holly Sternlicht.

In 2016, Boseman made his first appearance as Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War.  Black Panther is cemented in history as the first superhero with African roots in mainstream American comics, first appearing in 1966. Today, Boseman played the central character of Black Panther released in 2018. The movie was a runaway hit.  

“He was an inspiration to others  and made such a large impact for all of the young boys and girls who looked up to King T’Challa,” said freshmen Sienna Fox.   

Between the movie’s critical acclaim (96% on Rotten Tomatoes), Boseman’s outstanding acting, and the movie’s cultural significance, Black Panther is one of the most ground-breaking films of all time.  Coming off the movie’s success, Boseman hosted Saturday Night Live in April 2018.  That year, Black Panther became the first superhero movie ever to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.  In addition, Boseman earned the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture. 

It is likely that Chadwick Boseman will always be remembered first for his iconic role in Black Panther.  However, his movie career also included other well-known performances, including his portrayal of two of the most influential African Americans of the 20th century: Jackie Robinson in 42 and Justice Thurgood Marshall in Marshall.  The news of his death was devastating for his millions of fans around the world. It was clear how much his life had affected those who knew him personally as well as those who only knew him from the big screen.

“He not only played a hero in Black Panther, but he was a hero in real life as well.  He was truly an inspiration,” said freshman Ella Kane.  

His death was particularly shocking because most people never even knew he was ill. He kept his condition private and never spoke about it publicly.  It was particularly inspiring to many that he continued to act after being diagnosed.  When news of his death was announced by his family on social media,  there was an outpouring of grief.  It is evident that he touched many lives.

Former President Obama tweeted a picture of him and Chadwick meeting and remarked, “Chadwick came to the White House to work with kids when he was playing Jackie Robinson.  You could tell right away that he was blessed.  To be young, gifted, and Black; to use that power to give them heroes to look up to; to do it all while in pain- what a use of his years.”

It is clear that Chadwick Boseman’s name will live on forever as a man who portrayed idols on the big screen. His work ethic, iconic roles, and strength as an actor and person will be remembered forever.