By Tom Warner (Best & Next Department)
The King is dead. Long live the King!
Actor Chadwick Boseman, whose regal performance as King T’Challa in the ground-breaking 2018 film Black Panther became an inspiring symbol of Black power, died August 28, age 43, after the “Wakanda warrior” lost his four-year battle against colon cancer.
Boseman’s fight against illness mirrored his onscreen character’s heroics, as he overcame adversity to film some of the biggest movies ever made late in his career, including two just this year. His final performances were as “Stormin’ Norman” in Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods (2020) and as Levee in the just-completed film adaptation of August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020). Boseman’s passing creates a void that can only be filled by looking back at the films and performances he left us, and cherishing the artistry that carries on in them.
Though Black Panther will be probably be remembered as the highlight of his Hollywood reign, Boseman already had a storied and critically acclaimed career long before portraying T’Challa the Black Panther in four Marvel Cinematic Universe films (2016’s Captain America: Civil War, 2018’s Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity Wars, and 2019’s Avengers: Endgame).
Boseman had starring roles as several pioneering African-Americans, portraying such iconic figures as Jackie Robinson in 42 (2013), James Brown in Get on Up (2014), and Thurgood Marshall in Marshall (2017). To be asked to portray such legends is an honor in itself; to master the role in such a way that both respects the subjects and inspires the audience is yet another achievement, one that will outlast Boseman’s all-too-brief life and be his true lasting legacy.
Like Kamala Harris and Toni Morrison, Boseman was a graduate of Howard University, where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Directing; he went on to study acting at Oxford University, thanks to Denzel Washington, who paid his tuition. He was also a playwright and continued to write throughout his career. Of his inspirational role in Black Panther, Boseman acknowledged the film’s influential celebration of African culture, tradition and identity. “You might say that this African nation is a fantasy. But to have the opportunity to pull from real ideas, real places and real African concepts, and to put it inside of this idea of Wakanda – that’s a great opportunity to develop what a sense of identity is, especially when you’re disconnected from it.”
If you’ve already seen Black Panther and want more of T’Challa’s adventures, you can use your library card to read or download Black Panther comics (written and illustrated by various artists, including Ta’Nehisi Coate’s acclaimed 2016-2018 series for Marvel Comics) through our digital media resource, Hoopla.
Though The Kill Hole (2017) is the only Boseman movie available to stream on Hoopla, Pratt has the following films available to be checked out through Sidewalk Service pickup or Books-By-Mail services:
Now is the time to remember the King! Wakanda forever!