Actor and director Jordan Peele described the sudden death of “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman as a “crushing blow” on his Twitter account. That is how it felt to Boseman’s millions of fans around the world and to the Marvel Universe when learning of the actor’s passing last month.
On August 28th, Boseman, 43, succumbed to a private 4-year long battle with colon cancer in his Los Angeles home. He was surrounded by his wife and family, said his publicist Nicki Fioravante to The Associated Press.
The family issued the following statement: “A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you love so much. From Marshall to Da 5 Bloods, August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and several more – all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy. It was the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther.”
Boseman’s death ironically fell on the same day that Major League Baseball was celebrating Jackie Robinson day. The actor had played the role of baseball legend Robinson in the 2013 biographical sports film along with Harrison Ford.
“His transcendent performance in ‘42’ will stand the test of time and serve as a powerful vehicle to tell Jackie’s story to audiences for generations to come,” the MLB wrote in a tweet.
What may be the most shocking part about Boseman’s death is that most people had no idea that the actor was sick. Boseman, best known for playing the superhero Black Panther, had kept his colon cancer battle out of the public eye and did not share his diagnosis with many that he worked with.
One wonders, how does an actor shoot an epic movie like “Black Panther” which had a budget of $200 million (the movie eventually earned $1.35 billion) without this kind of a diagnosis being revealed?
According to film finance attorney Schuyler Moore, the Marvel star would not likely require a medical examination for insurance purposes. “Big studios don’t often [get] completion bonds. They are more prevalent in the indie filmmaking world. Sometimes, the big studios will look to insure for a particular actor, but they usually have a particular reason for doing so. Otherwise, studios will just shoulder the risk [of sickness or death].”
Boseman’s drastic weight loss however left many fans worried about his health when he visited Heinz Field to watch a Pittsburgh Steelers practice on August 4th in 2019. Fans immediately took to Twitter to share their concerns with one writing, “Are you ok dude? You look sick, cause that’s not the same Chadwick.” Another wrote, “Not sure what’s going on with you but I hope you’re doing okay health wise.” Some fans had hoped that the weight loss could have been for a role.
We all know now that the true reason behind Boseman’s skinny and unhealthy look directly resulted from his cancer and the colon cancer treatments that he was going through. But instead of sharing his pain with the world, the actor seemed more concerned about others.
St. Jude Hospital paid tribute to Boseman in a social media post recently and wrote, “Two years ago, Chadwick visited the St. Jude campus and brought with him not only toys for our patients but also joy, courage and inspiration. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time. We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of our friend Chadwick Boseman.”
“Black Panther” co-star Danai Gurira honored Boseman in a post of her own on her Instagram where she referred to her friend as a “true class act.” Yes, he was.
Children too have been mourning the loss of Boseman in the last week. A touching memorial was posted by 7-year old Kian Westbrook of St. Louis which had gained thousands of retweets and likes. Westbrook had gathered his “Avengers” action figures and lined them up in his driveway along with flowers. In the picture Kian stands against the garage door next to his toys and hand gestures “Wakanda Forever” with a solemn look.
His dad King Westbrook said his son liked “Black Panther” because he loves comics and superheroes and “for him to see one that looked like him or looked like his father, as far as a Black man that’s saving the world, that meant a lot to him.” King said when Kian learned the news of Boseman’s death he had cried a lot and could not stop talking about him.
Regardless of race, gender, or age, “Black Panther” is a superhero that is a favorite among many. He is not only one of the smartest and most powerful heroes but is also the very first superhero of African descent in mainstream American comics. With the growing BLM movement, Boseman represented a character that became a defining hero to the black community who depicted the cultural values of people of African ancestry.
A “Black Panther” sequel had been announced, and it is one of Disney’s most anticipated upcoming films. The studio is now left scrambling to figure out how to let the franchise go on without its most eponymous star.
A source close to Boseman had told the Hollywood Reporter that the actor was convinced up until right before his death that he could beat his cancer and regain the weight. The sequel is scheduled to go into production next March.
Disney executive chairman Bob Iger called Boseman “an extraordinary talent, and one of the most gentle and giving souls I have ever met. He brought enormous strength, dignity and depth to his groundbreaking role of Black Panther.”
“Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler wrote in his remembrance of the star, “I spent the last year preparing, imagining and writing words for him to say, that we weren’t destined to see. It leaves me broken knowing that I won’t be able to watch another close-up of him in the monitor again or walk up to him and ask for another take.”