Late last night I got a text from a friend that just read “Chadwick Boseman…what the hell?!”, I was on the phone with my wife so I sent a text back asking what she was talking about, and my friend’s response floored me, “Dead at 43. Colon cancer.”
I immediately got on my IPad to check my various social media feeds, needing this to be an internet hoax. Sadly it wasn’t. For the past 4 years, Boseman had secretly battled colon cancer. The outpouring of fellow actors and fans was immediate and beautiful in their love of this young King.
Growing up the Black Panther wasn’t a character I followed on a regular until the 90’s Marvel Knights run and from there I was all in. Even when I worked at DC Comics, I had a Black Panther bust prominently displayed on my desk. As the years went by the Marvel movies changed the cinematic landscape. Rumors of the Black Panther being the next film to be released started surfacing, followed by the possible actors for the role.
And then a friend told me “Chadwick Boseman is going to be the Black Panther.”
My response, “Who?”
“The guy that played Jackie Robinson, he was also James Brown.”
“I didn’t see either one of those.”
“Well, they picked him to be the Black Panther.”
And that might be quite possibly the dumbest thing I’ve said, and I say a lot of dumb s***. I didn’t know who Chadwick Boseman was and to my utter delight, I never was so happy to be so wrong as his portrayal of King T’challa aka the Black Panther was the Everything I didn’t know I wanted or needed.
I’ve seen a bunch of videos from Avengers: Endgame when he shows up at the end of the movie for the epic battle or giving the Wakanda Forever salute from Black Panther. For me, it’s that moment in Captain America: Civil War when we first see him as he comes flying out of nowhere to beat Bucky’s ass. For me, this is a truly great cinematic action introduction. And let’s be real, while he falls for Zemo’s shell game in breaking the Avengers apart, he’s the one that stays on point in capturing the true villain.
And then we have Black Panther.
At this point, I don’t think there is an adjective or verb that hasn’t been used to describe the genius and impact that this blockbuster of a movie has made on the culture, I remember the BlackSci-Fi.com crew wrote about our feelings when the movie came out.
Which led to another mistake I made, when I was allowed to see Chadwick Boseman and Lupita Nyong’o in a talk moderated by Ta-Nehisi Coates at the world-famous Apollo Theater. The event was super tight, pictures were not allowed, and instead of using my limited juice to get on the press list, I settled for just getting in as a fan. Of the 6 or 7 reasons I would go back in time for, this is on the list. That night they spoke about the film’s impact and the reception of the movie. The night ended with a shot of the panelists and the audience doing the Wakanda Forever salute.
In a year that has seen social injustices rise daily, losing Boseman’s voice is another reason why this year will go down in the annals of the crappiest year in our early 21st century. As I write this, I’m sitting at my desk in a chair that has a Black Panther chair cape I got last year at the Stan Lee memorial. I’m thinking about the loss we now face, and to be clear I’m not talking about the next Black Panther movie.
I’m talking about a Howard University graduate, a teacher, and a fighter. Let’s remember and honor the man who used his voice and platform to spotlight change in the movie industry behind the scenes, speaking up about representation that matters on the screen, and all-in-all being a true inspiration for more than just us comic geeks.
Head here to see the wide range of films featuring this great actor.
George Carmona 3rd is an Artist/Writer, former Milestone Media Intern, former DC Comics paper pusher, current book lover, and lifelong comic geek. He is the author of the DC Super Friends Joke Book from Penguin Random House. You can find his work at FistFullofArt.com or follow him on Twitter at GCarmona3.