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On August 28, actor Chadwick Boseman died of colon cancer at age 43. Boseman made a global impact with his role as T’Challa in the Marvel Cinematic Universe film Black Panther. He also played several influential Black figures in critically-acclaimed movies such as Jackie Robinson in 42, James Brown in Get on Up, and Thurgood Marshall in Marshall.
Boseman additionally starred in the 2019 movie 21 Bridges. Most recently, he starred in Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods, which was released on June 12. He also has a forthcoming posthumous main role alongside Viola Davis in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Boseman was set to portray Yasuke, a samurai from East Africa, in an upcoming film of the same name — a film hotly anticipated by Boseman fans and anime fans.
On Sunday night, a special dedicated to Boseman’s life, Chadwick Boseman: A Tribute For A King, was aired on television. The tribute was played alongside a commercial-free airing of Black Panther. As the special made clear, Boseman’s death was unexpected, though he may have known his death was imminent for quite some time.
Boseman battled colon cancer for four years
Boseman’s family said in a statement posted on Boseman’s Twitter that he was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer in 2016. His family explained that he battled his cancer for four years as it progressed to the fourth stage and ultimately took his life.
Boseman filmed some of his most successful work while battling cancer
Boseman was a talented and critically acclaimed actor who chose to play strong, iconic roles despite his secret fight with colon cancer. Following his diagnosis in 2016, Boseman starred in Message from the King, Marshall, Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, 21 Bridges, and Da 5 Bloods.
Black Panther won many awards and became the highest-grossing film of all time by a Black director and ninth highest-grossing movie of all time with a worldwide gross of $1.23 billion. Avengers: Endgame is the first highest-grossing movie of all time and earned $2.79 billion, and Avengers: Infinity War is the fourth highest-grossing movie of all time and earned $2.048 billion.
Celebrity tributes are pouring in
Many actors who worked with Boseman, including actors in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, have taken to social media to express their sadness about Boseman’s death.
In a previous statement by Boseman, he revealed that Denzel Washington paid for Boseman’s tuition for a prestigious theater program. After Boseman’s passing, Washington released a statement describing Boseman as “a gentle soul and a brilliant artist.” He added that Boseman’s legacy will always stay with us despite his “short yet illustrious career.”
A plethora of celebrities praised Boseman’s talent, courage, and grace. Michael B. Jordan, who portrayed Killmonger in Black Panther, posted an emotional tribute on his Instagram. He said, among other things, “I’ll miss the gift of sharing space with you in scenes.”
Mark Ruffalo, who played Bruce Banner and The Hulk in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame with Boseman, made a statement about his passing. “All I have to say is the tragedies amassing this year,” said Ruffalo, “have only been made more profound by the loss of Chadwick Boseman.”
Issa Rae wrote on her Twitter, “This broke me” when referring to Boseman’s passing. She further elaborated on her Instagram, “Maybe it’s because we lost a literal Black superhero. … Maybe it’s because you had to suffer in silence for so long, while some speculated, cruelly.”
Rae also spoke out about some people who took Boseman’s health for granted. In mid-April 2020, Boseman’s fans were worried about his health after he posted an Instagram video in celebration of Jackie Robinson Day and a collaboration called “Operation 42.” While some of his fans asked about his health and sent well wishes, other commenters made jokes and uploaded memes mocking the physical transformation Boseman had gone through.
Jordan Peele tweeted that losing Boseman is “a crushing blow.” Captain Marvel‘s Brie Larson, who co-starred with Boseman, made a tribute on her Instagram and described him as “someone who radiated power and peace.” Viola Davis, who was set to star with Boseman in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, wrote on her Twitter, “Chadwick, no words to express my devastation of losing you. Your talent, your spirit, your heart, your authenticity.”
Boseman’s final film on Netflix was postponed
Netflix delayed a virtual preview of Boseman’s last movie, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, initially scheduled for August 31. The film is about the 1920s legendary blues singer. Netflix released a statement saying they are postponing the release date to honor Boseman’s passing, and they are planning to release the film later this year. Netflix’s co-chief executive and chief content officer Ted Sarandos said in a statement, “Chadwick was a superhero on screen and in life, and it’s impossible to imagine working at the level he has while valiantly battling his illness.”
Chadwick Boseman’s passing affected many people
The tweet that announced Chadwick Boseman’s death, heralding his perseverance and resilience with cancer, is now the most-liked tweet ever. The tweet has garnered over seven million likes, with many people grieving while celebrating his accomplishments. Boseman will truly be missed by many people worldwide.