THE LIFE AND LEGACY OF CHADWICK BOSEMAN
12 February 2018 marked the release of one of the most anticipated films of the 21st century Black Panther, which widely introduced to the world one of the most iconic actors of our generation Chadwick Boseman. Today we honour his memory as today marks the anniversary of his passing on the 28th of August 2020. His legacy as the Black Panther in the film of the same title which is a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe gave Black people, young and old all over the world a hero who they could relate to. Although widely introduced to the world over through Black Panther; Chadwick’s break through role was in fact his portrayal of the legendary James Brown in Get on Up. In his eulogy to Boseman, The Irish Time’s Donald Clarke wrote “Get on Up tested every weapon in the actor’s arsenal [and his] performance confirmed that, like a star from Hollywood’s golden age, Chadwick Boseman could do it all and do it all with style.” with Rotten Tomatoes stating “With an unforgettable Chadwick Boseman in the starring role, Get On Up offers the Godfather of Soul a fittingly dynamic homage.” and Richard Corliss of the Times was quoted saying that Chadwick Boseman “deserves a Pulitzer, a Nobel and instant election to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”
It was during the height of his career that fans and supporters received the shocking news that Chadwick was going through a private four year battle with Colon Cancer. He had his diagnosis in 2016 only two years prior to the release of the block buster movie, which meant that he was undergoing treatment whilst filming Black Panther; and something to note is that his first appearance in the MCU franchise as T’Challa / Black Panther was in Captain America: Civil War. By 2020, and unbeknownst to the public, his cancer had already progressed. Whilst undergoing arduous treatments, multiple surgeries and chemotherapy, Chadwick Boseman continued to work, completing many productions such as Marshall, Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, 21 Bridges, Da 5 Bloods, and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
As an individual, the actor was often acknowledged for his kindness, humility and strength of character. However, when images surfaced on the internet of Chadwick looking thinner than what his normal frame was known to be; many fans thought he was losing weight for an upcoming film, many posted comments asking if he was ok, with some commenting with messages of support reassuring him that they were there to support him. But as the internet goes, not all online comments are kind, as some questioned his weight loss alongside comments that made fun of his thinner frame.
Chadwick Boseman has been extremely influential within the black community, and has left the legacy that he has today because he told a lot of important stories of determination and Black excellence, his advocacy for black representation in film and television consisted of his portrayal of some great historical figures such as Jackie Robinson, James Brown and Thurgood Marshall, with one of his most prolific roles as the Black Panther, Prince turned King T’Challa of Wakanda, a fictional African country, that was never affected by colonisation or slavery.
Chadwick Boseman’s portrayal of King T’Challa was able to turn the character into a mainstay. However, after his tragic passing, Marvel Studios decided not to recast his character of T’Challa. This decision was met with a lot of controversy as this will mean the killing off of the character T’Challa/Black Panther off-screen. YouTube TV and Film commentator Eman’s Movie Reviews was amongst the many who expressed concerns about this decision particularly on the effects it would have on the representation of strong black leads in film and television. And in light of this took action and decided to create a petition to urge Marvel to recast the role. This is because he believes that in order to better honour his memory, they should recast the role of T’Challa so that the character can live on.
Eman’s Movie Reviews made a point to say, “The typical reason why we see a lot of these characters recast [such as Spider-Man, Batman or Superman] is because they are deemed too important to lose or to forget about. Even though this situation is not the exact same, it still is not a reason to stop the portrayal of T’Challa, because as I have said many times before, the number one way to kill a legend is to stop telling their story.”
If you would like to sign the petition to keep the T’Challa character alive follow the link https://chng.it/D7LZrpHbZK
As we remember Chadwick Boseman, let us remember what a prolific actor and individual he was, an individual that advocated for change in the representation of black characters on screen, and the manner in which they are portrayed. Whilst battling cancer he was active in supporting various charitable organisations such as St Jude’s all the way to his death. In his support of the Black Panther Challenge that was created by a New Yorker to raise funds for young children who wanted to watch the film; Chadwick donated $10,000 to provide free tickets for the children of the Boys and Girls Club of Harlem. This action prompted Disney to donate $1 million to the Boys & Girls Clubs to advance its STEM programs.
One cannot simply come across any Chadwick Boseman film and not feel inspired or in awe of what a great actor he was; and if you have not already watched his films, below is a list of movies you can watch with your friends or family in honour of one the greatest assets Hollywood ever had.
|Name of Film||Where To Watch|
|The Express: The Ernie Davis Story||STARZ|
|The Kill Hole||Apple TV|
|Get on Up||HBO Max and HBO|
|Gods of Egypt||Amazon Prime|
|Captain America: Civil War||Disney+|
|Message from the King||Netflix|
|Avengers: Infinity War||Disney+|
|21 Bridges||Amazon Prime|
|Da 5 Bloods||Netflix|
|Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom||Netflix|