Chadwick Boseman, more than Black Panther

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The American actor died on Friday of complications from colon cancer that he had suffered since 2016

There is in the early death of Chadwick Boseman, who died on Friday in Los Angeles at the age of 43 – he would have turned 44 in November -, a regret that goes beyond the tragedy involved in any disappearance of a young person and that has to do with his commitment, through work, with the representation of the black race in times of Black Lives Matter.

In 2016, as announced on his Twitter account after his death, he was diagnosed with colon cancer that, four years later, has ended his life, a disease that the actor took with discretion and that did not prevent him from following working. That same year marked a turning point in his career when the character that assures him a place in the popular imagination played for the first time in cinema: T’Challa, Black Panther, from the Marvel universe – created in 1966 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby -, the first black superhero.

There were a total of four films: Captain America: Civil War (2016), Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019), all directed by brothers Anthony and Joe Russo, and in between Ryan’s Black Panther (2018). Coogler, who placed him as the main protagonist. The film, Marvel’s first with a cast mostly of black actors, was a success since its premiere – it recovered its budget of 200 million dollars in its first weekend in the United States – and became the first superhero in get an Oscar nomination for best picture. Although Boseman did not get a nomination – nor did any of his peers – all of them received the award for best cast of the year by the Screen Actors Guild.

However, before stepping into T’Challa’s shoes, Boseman had already played leading African-American figures of the 20th century. Graduated in directing from Howard University in Washington, the one with the largest number of black graduates, he first moved to New York, where he entered the theater scene and appeared in episodes of series such as ER or CSI: New York, and in 2008 to the Angels. In movies he stood out in 2013 when he played baseball legend Jackie Robinson, the first black player in the Major Leagues, at 42, by Brian Helgeland. Before Boseman, no one had embodied it, other than Robinson himself in a 1950 biopic, The Jackie Robinson Story. By chance, Boseman died on Jackie Robinson’s Day, a day on which all baseball players traditionally wear the number 42 in honor of the historic player. In reality, it is commemorated on April 15 but the pandemic situation made it postpone this year to August 28.

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Boseman also stepped into the shoes of singer James Brown, and his energetic work stood out the most in Tate Taylor’s I Feel Good biopic. In 2017, he also played the lawyer and civil rights activist Thurgood Marshall who had been embodied in the telefilm Faced by Sidney Poitier, a beacon that guides all African-American actors. One of Boseman’s latest films has been Da 5 Bloods: Brothers in Arms in which Spike Lee vindicates the historical role of anonymous black Americans. The actor leaves Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, produced by Denzel Washington, based on a play and performed by Viola Davis in the role of Ma Rainey, a blues singer who lived in the early 20th century. Boseman plays the band’s trumpeter, a role that won awards and recognition to Charles S. Dutton, the actor who played him on Broadway, an indication that Chadwick Boseman’s story may not be over.


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