The passing of Chadwick Boseman on August 28 came as a gut-wrenching shock to fans all over the world. No one but those closest to him had any idea of the battle he had been fighting since 2016. Boseman was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer that year, but he persevered and continued to act in films such as “Black Panther,” “Marshall,” “21 Bridges” and several others.
Boseman started his acting career in 2003, appearing in several TV shows such as “Third Watch” and “Law & Order.” Most of these roles were small, and he wasn’t cast in a movie until 2008. He finally got his break in 2013 when he was cast in the leading role of “42,” a film about Jackie Robinson’s rise to baseball glory. Despite his slow start, his talent as an actor was unquestionable. He flourished as Robinson. The next year, Boseman played singer James Brown in “Get on Up” as he continued his rise to fame.
In 2016, Boseman debuted as Black Panther in “Captain America: Civil War.” This was arguably the start to the most defining era of his career. Audiences loved his stoic and charismatic performance, and he quickly became a fan favorite even though he wasn’t heavily featured.
Boseman’s fame and influence reached their peaks with the debut of “Black Panther” in 2018. Audiences were thrilled to see King T’challa in his own feature film, and the anticipation for the film showed it. The movie was a massive success, racking up more than $1 billion in just 26 days. His performance was so powerful that he essentially became the Black Panther himself. He continued to play the masked superhero in following years, both in “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame.” His role as a major African American superhero had a profound and immediate influence on the African American community, whose young children had been missing a strong icon in the superhero genre.
Boseman’s character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe propelled him to superstardom. He became a national treasure and an inspiration to millions. It became a common sight to see him on talk shows and award ceremonies, where his personality shined even brighter. Nothing could have ever prepared fans for his unexpected passing, but it makes it even harder to know that he was fighting through surgeries and therapy for so long.
However, his attitude in the face of such daunting adversity is exactly what makes him so special. In this day and age, it’s extremely rare for celebrities to keep such a major struggle to themselves. Despite the suffering his condition undoubtedly caused him, Boseman always seemed to stay positive, focused and poised. He set aside his personal battle for as long as he could, giving everything he had to his craft and those he inspired. He created an aura of bravery and determination around him; it was the root of what made him a superhero both in film and in life.