Boseman changed the face of Hollywood. Black Panther grossed over a billion dollars in 2018 and proved a black star could lead a black movie to blockbuster success. The actor himself did it with quiet dignity and strength which is even more extraordinary now it has been revealed he was battling cancer the entire time. After critically acclaimed roles in films like 2014’s James Brown biopic Get On Up, he had come to superstardom relatively late at 41, but would have only two years to enjoy the powerful impact he and his movies had on the world.
The offficial statement says: “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.”
It is a tremendous loss which will resound for years to come, but fans can take some comfort from the knowledge the actor had been able to film on last appearance as Black Panther.
He first appeared in the Marvel Universe in 2016’s Captain America Civil War – the same year he was diagnosed with cancer.
His loss also poses the extermely painful question of what happens to his Marvel character.
A Black Panther sequel was always going to happen as soon as the incredible response to the first film shook the world, not only for financial reason but because the franchise was one of Marvel and Hollywood’s responses to the enormous changes happening in the industry and society.
It is currently scheduled for 2022. How can that happen now without its leading man? Should it even happen?
The answer lies in the comics where the role is passed down. T’Challa’s sister Shuri is played by Leticia Wright on screen and there were already calls and reports her role would be expanded, potentially into her own projects.
In the comics she takes on Black Panther’s mantle. However, there is also a very strong argument for somehow bringing back Michael B Jordan’s anti-hero Killmonger.
Although he died on screen the MCU and the comics have shown there is always a way to resurrect characters. His story arc was already powerful, finding a form of redemption and acceptance after years of torment. Who better to take up the stewardshi of Wakanda with pride and dignity?
Boseman changed the face of Hollywood with this role. That work must continue to honour the actor himself and the extraordinary impact his creation had on our society.