Pin It
Chadwick Boseman
Via Instagram @chadwickboseman

RIP Chadwick Boseman: tributes pour in for Black Panther star, dead at 43

The actor has passed away after a four-year battle with colon cancer

Chadwick Boseman, who starred as Black Panther in the Avengers blockbuster, has passed away aged 43, after a four-year battle with colon cancer.

The actor died in his Los Angeles home with his loved ones by his side, as confirmed by his family. In a statement, they said: “A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much.” Chadwick’s family added that “it was the honour of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther”. 

In recent years, Boseman starred in Marshall, in which he portrayed civil rights activist Thurgood Marshall, Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods, and the upcoming Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, all of which “were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy”. Boseman had not spoken publicly about his cancer diagnosis.

Born in South Carolina in 1976, the actor wrote his first play, Crossroads, in high school, which was staged after one of his classmates was shot and killed. Boseman went on to graduate with a directing degree from Howard University in Washington, before attending a summer acting programme at the British American Drama Academy in London. He later graduated from New York City’s Digital Film Academy, and moved to LA in 2008 to pursue acting.

After landing several television roles, Boseman first starred in a film in 2013, when he played baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson in 42. That same year he starred in The Kill Hole, before going on to portray James Brown in Get On Up (2014). Boseman played Black Panther in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War (when the character was first introduced into the Marvel movies), as well as 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.

Tributes have poured in for Boseman online. Get Out director Jordan Peele tweeted, “This is a crushing blow”, while Ava DuVernay wrote, “May you have a beautiful return, King. We will miss you so”. 

Martin Luther King III also paid tribute on Twitter, writing: “Chadwick Boseman brought history to life on the silver screen, from Jackie Robinson, James Brown, and Thurgood Marshall. As Black Panther, he was also a superhero to many. And despite his four year long battle with cancer, he kept fighting and he kept inspiring. He will be missed.” 

Samuel L. Jackson thanked Boseman “for all you gave us”, adding: “We needed it and will always cherish it! A talented and giving artist and brother who will be sorely missed. RIP.”

Issa Rae expressed her shock at Boseman’s passing in two successive tweets. She said, “What the fuck is happening? My God,” before declaring, “This broke me”.

Presidential candidate Joe Biden tweeted: “The true power of @ChadwickBoseman was bigger than anything we saw on screen. From the Black Panther to Jackie Robinson, he inspired generations and showed them they can be anything they want – even superheroes.”

On its release in 2018, Black Panther set a record for the biggest February opening weekend ever, earning $192 million (£137m) in just three days. With a 90 per cent Black cast, who portray superheroes, the film was vital for Black empowerment, with the Wakanda Salute even becoming a real-world symbol for Black power.

Discussing the film in an interview with GQ, Boseman said: “It’s a joy to see the effect the film has on different people from various walks of life, no matter what race, gender, or age. To be a part of something that has affected people in different countries, that is humbling and liberating.”