A King Has Gone Home!
He ensnared us with his charm, transforming into each character he portrayed. Chadwick Boseman was the consummate performer bringing a new life to every role; even though he’d gained recognition bringing the stories of Black icons to the screen he was different in each film.
A true chameleon. However, it was his iconic role as T’Challa, The Black Panther, the etched him forever in our collective memory. His portrayal of the king of the fictional African utopia, Wakanda, reminded us all who we were and what we were capable of achieving.
On August 28, he passed after a valiant four year battle with colon cancer in which he worked on and promoted several of the highest-grossing films in Marvel history. This warrior’s spirit and commitment to his purpose is why he will be forever ours, here are some of his iconic roles:
Role: Jackie Robinson
Boseman’s breakout role following a stint on television series was the critically acclaimed film, 42, where he portrayed the baseball legend and history maker, “Jackie Robinson.”
During his press tours, he reaffirmed that the beauty of Jackie Robinson was walking in his purpose without thinking of himself as a hero. “If you think about him being an icon and a hero anyway, that actually is the pitfall in playing the role. It’s the biggest pitfall you can fall into because he didn’t know that he was going to be an icon. He didn’t know that he was going to be a hero. In fact, [Jackie] has to deal with that heroism throughout the movie when he finds out that [being in Major League Baseball] is a bigger deal to everyone than he thought it would be. You can’t completely block out that feeling of responsibility, but you can focus the same way he did—one thing at a time, moment to moment. Eventually, all the pieces will be there.”
Get On Up
Role: James Brown
His second in a series of high profile biopics was the role of James Brown in Get On Up. He showed his artist range as a singer, dancer, and actor. He initially wasn’t interested in playing in another biopic, but his performance gave everyone the feeling that we was a rising star. “I just didn’t think there was any point in trying,” he told The Guardian. “I was like, ‘What’s next? Gimme something else.’ He’s too big an icon, and I’d just played one [in 42]. And in my mind, I didn’t know how you would even approach those dance moves.”
Captain America: Civil War
Role: Black Panther/King T’Challa
He first appeared as the iconic Black Panther alongside Captain America and the other Avengers in the film that introduced his character to the world. He gave fans of the Marvel series something to look forward to as they awaited the release of his standalone films. One of his lines from the movie is especially poignant today. Following the death of his father at the hands of one of the movie villains he says this to Scarlett Johansson’s character, Natasha Romanoff. “In my culture, death is not the end. It’s more of a stepping off point. You reach out with both hands and Bast and Sekhmet, they lead you into the green veld where… you can run forever.”
Message From The King
Role: Jacob King
Boseman took on scripts that showed his artistic range regardless if they were on the big screen or going the more indie route like this Netflix feature. As fans awaited the release of Black Panther they got to watch him in this action-packed thriller featuring a South African man looking for his sister in Los Angeles. He showed that he was more than just the Black Panther.
He was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2016, which makes this one of the first film runs he had while fighting cancer.
Role: Thurgood Marshall
He played his fellow Howard University Bison and first Black Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall, in his third biopic.
He was able to draw on his own experiences as a Black man growing up in the south to embody his role as the civil rights lawyer, “You know, I’m from Anderson, S.C., but I grew up in the South. So I know what it is to ride to school and have Confederate flags flying from trucks in front of me and behind me, to see a parking lot full of people with Confederate flags and know what that means. I’ve been stopped by police for no reason. I’ve been called boy and nigger and everything else that you could imagine. Along with the great hospitality that is in the South, that is part of it,” he told NPR. “And so I understand when it is to exist in that space and find your manhood. And so I don’t think that that is a thing that has gone completely foreign to our existence right now. So part of my, I guess, ability to face it is because I faced it. I failed at facing it. I get the opportunity in playing the character to relive those things and do things a different way.”
Role: Black Panther/King T’challa
This standalone film for the first Black Marvel comic broke records and inspired Black people across the globe with its reimagining of a world we have only dreamed of free of the influence of colonizers and white supremacy. The first major Black superhero movie broke records in Hollywood crossing a billion dollars across the globe. Its success changed the game for Black actors and filmmakers, showing that a basically all-Black film not only worked, but it also thrived.
“I hesitate to say this is bigger – those are real historical figures and moments, but what this is, it’s a cultural moment that is happening right now. We’re not remembering breaking the color barrier or how funk was created. We’re living this,” Boseman told USA Today. “Seeing my mom watch what was going on and being able to introduce her to certain people. When Miss (Angela) Bassett came over, Janelle Monae and Tessa Thompson came over… She’s the Queen Mother so she gets to meet everybody. That was my favorite part of the night.”
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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.” #WakandaForeveradvertisement
Da 5 Bloods
Role: Stormin’ Norman
This Spike Lee joint is one of his most recent roles, which ironically he depicts a man taken from those who love and respect him. In this Vietnam War film, a group of Black veterans returns to the country years later to bury their squad leader, Stormin’ Norman, which Boseman played. Although a small role, his presence was a powerful and central role to the other characters.
Rest in power, Chadwick Boseman.
Posted by A Plus on Friday, August 28, 2020advertisement
Thank you to our king for showing us what it meant to lead with love, style, and grace.
Photo Credit: IMBD