On August 28, actor Chadwick Boseman died following a four-year battle with colon cancer. Boseman, who was best known for his roles as Jackie Robinson in 42, James Brown in Get on Up and King T’Challa in Black Panther, was 43 years old. His death also came on the same day as Jackie Robinson Day.
“It is with immeasurable grief that we confirm the passing of Chadwick Boseman,” wrote in his family in a statement, which was posted across Boseman’s personal social media accounts. “Chadwick was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016, and battled with it these last 4 years as it progressed to stage IV.”
“A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to 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.”
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It is with immeasurable grief that we confirm the passing of Chadwick Boseman. Chadwick was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016, and battled with it these last 4 years as it progressed to stage IV. A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to 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. He died in his home, with his wife and family by his side. The family thanks you for your love and prayers, and asks that you continue to respect their privacy during this difficult time. Photo Credit: @samjonespictures
During those four years, Boseman also starred in and filmed several Marvel films, including The Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. “It was the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther,” his family wrote.
While the film broke box office records and became one of the highest grossing films of 2018, it was historical and significant for far more other reasons, including its impact on young Black children, who could see themselves in the film’s predominantly Black cast.
“This is not just a movie about a Black superhero; it’s very much a Black movie,” wrote journalist Jamil Smith in 2018 for Time magazine. “It carries a weight that neither Thor nor Captain American could lift: serving a Black audience that has long gone underrepresented.”
In 2019, when the Black Panther cast won a Screen Actors Guild Award for best performance, Boseman said, “All of us here—to be young, gifted, and Black—we all know what it’s like to be told that there is not a place for you to be featured, yet, you are young, gifted, and Black….And that is what we went to work with every day, because we knew, not that we would be around during awards season or that it would make a billion dollars, but we knew that we had something special that we wanted to give the world, that we could be full human beings in the roles that we were playing, that we could create a world that exemplified a world that we wanted to see.”
From the film, also came the rallying cry “Wakanda Forever,” which fans will undoubtedly continue as a salute to Boseman.
Fans and celebrities, including several of his Marvel costars, expressed shock and grief over Boseman’s unexpected death on social media. (Many people had speculated whether Boseman was sick following his dramatic weight loss.)
“I keep thinking about my 3-year-old in his Black Panther costume,” wrote writer Clint Smith on Twitter. “How he wore it almost every day when he got it, refused to take it off. The way he walked around saying ‘I’m the Black Panther.’ How happy it made him. What Chadwick gave us was immeasurable. What an enormous loss.”
I keep thinking about my 3-year-old in his Black Panther costume. How he wore it almost every day when he got it, refused to take it off. The way he walked around saying “I’m the Black Panther.” How happy it made him. What Chadwick gave us was immeasurable. What an enormous loss.— Clint Smith (@ClintSmithIII) August 29, 2020
May you have a beautiful return, King. We will miss you so. pic.twitter.com/jdip3RHoXb— Ava DuVernay (@ava) August 29, 2020
Chadwick Boseman, who played Jackie Robinson in “42,” has died at the age of 42 on Jackie Robinson Day.— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) August 29, 2020
What an awful loss for this world. pic.twitter.com/8yNYJDvZbF
Chadwick was diagnosed with colon cancer four years ago, per reports. During that time, he gave us Civil War, Marshall, Black Panther, Infinity War, Endgame, 21 Bridges and Da 5 Bloods. Lord only knows what he was going through on a daily basis.— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) August 29, 2020
We are devastated by the tragic loss of Chadwick Boseman. 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. pic.twitter.com/8oU7QpdLSE— MLB (@MLB) August 29, 2020
“It’s not lost on me the way the internet bullied Chadwick Boseman the last two years about his appearance, him looking tired, etc to the point where he began deleting photos while he was fighting for his life,” wrote filmmaker @keywilliamss on Twitter. “You truly never know what people are going through. BE KIND.”
It’s not lost on me the way the internet bullied Chadwick Boseman the last two years about his appearance, him looking tired, etc to the point where he began deleting photos while he was fighting for his life. You truly never know what people are going through. BE KIND.— key. (@keywilliamss) August 29, 2020
Actor Chris Evans, who starred with Boseman in Captain America: Civil War and the last two Avengers films, described him as “special” and “a true original,” while actor Chris Hemsworth—famously known as Thor—said he was “one of the most genuine people I’ve met.” His Black Panther costar and onscreen mother Angela Bassett recalled their many memories on set, saying, “This young man’s dedication was awe-inspiring, his smile contagious, his talent unreal.”
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I’m absolutely devastated. This is beyond heartbreaking. Chadwick was special. A true original. He was a deeply committed and constantly curious artist. Few performers have such power and versatility. He had so much amazing work still left to create. I’m endlessly grateful for our friendship. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. Rest in power, King. ????
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“It was meant to be for Chadwick and me to be connected, for us to be family. But what many don’t know is our story began long before his historic turn as Black Panther. During the premiere party for Black Panther, Chadwick reminded me of something. He whispered that when I received my honorary degree from Howard University, his alma mater, he was the student assigned to escort me that day. And here we were, years later as friends and colleagues, enjoying the most glorious night ever! We’d spent weeks prepping, working, sitting next to each other every morning in makeup chairs, preparing for the day together as mother and son. I am honored that we enjoyed that full circle experience. This young man’s dedication was awe-inspiring, his smile contagious, his talent unreal. So I pay tribute to a beautiful spirit, a consummate artist, a soulful brother...”thou aren’t not dead but flown afar...”. All you possessed, Chadwick, you freely gave. Rest now, sweet prince.” #WakandaForever
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige also released a statement: “Chadwick’s passing is absolutely devastating. He was our T’Challa, our Black Panther, and our dear friend. Each time he stepped on set, he radiated charisma and joy, and each time he appeared on screen, he created something truly indelible. He embodied a lot of amazing people in his work, and nobody was better at bringing great men to life. He was as smart and kind and powerful and strong as any person he portrayed. Now he takes his place alongside them as an icon for the ages. The Marvel Studios family deeply mourns his loss and we are grieving tonight with his family.”
A statement from Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, who says that Chadwick Boseman’s passing is “absolutely devastating.”— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) August 29, 2020
“He was as smart and kind and powerful and strong as any person he portrayed. Now he takes his place alongside them as an icon for the ages.” pic.twitter.com/hKhHHW8WXl
For related coverage, read “Civil Rights Icon John Lewis Dies of Pancreatic Cancer at 80,” “When should I start getting colon cancer screenings?” and “Colon Cancer Often Misdiagnosed in People Under 50.”