Wakanda Forever: Remembering Chadwick Boseman, Our BLACK PANTHER And A Real-Life Warrior
Following the heartbreaking news that Chadwick Boseman has passed away after a four-year battle with cancer, we're paying our respects to the actor and looking back on the impact he had as Black Panther.
42 and Captain America: Civil War put Chadwick Boseman on the map, but 2018's Black Panther established the actor as one of Hollywood's brightest stars. While cries of "Wakanda Forever" were certain to follow him wherever he went next in his career, Boseman becoming a huge action movie star or the lead in the type of films that earn widespread acclaim and countless honours come awards season seemed inevitable. Sadly, we'll never get to find out as his life ended yesterday after a four-year battle with colon cancer. Since 2016, Boseman - who never went public with his diagnosis - continued to work, all while undergoing treatment and surgeries which even the strongest among us would be unable to bounce back from, never mind report to countless movie sets to bring a superhero to life on screen.
To call Chadwick Boseman brave and a warrior simply doesn't do the man justice, and while his time here came to an end far too soon, his legacy is one that will never be forgotten.
While he made an undeniable impact outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with hard-hitting features like 42 and Get On Up, his time as T'Challa in that comic book world was a game-changer for the genre and cinema as a whole. Grossing $1.34 billion worldwide, Black Panther dispelled the notion that movies with a Black lead could not perform well overseas (or in the U.S.), and helped open the door to superheroes being taken seriously by the Academy. Since then, there's been a notable uptick of Black leads in both film and television, but the cultural impact the movie had is even more important than the business one.
A whole generation of young people (of all races, but particularly those who are Black) were given the opportunity to see themselves reflected on screen. Black Panther is a hero to everyone, but to those who had spent years seeing Black actors pushed to the sidelines as sidekicks or supporting characters, the 2018 release changed everything. "Wakanda Forever" became a rallying cry, while the way the movie celebrated Black culture marked a huge turning point for this genre, in particular. In the wake of Black Panther's release, everything from initiatives to teach children more about African culture in schools to the #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe hashtag, which saw people open about their own Black identities, were launched. There are those who might argue that the movie would have had the same impact regardless of who donned the costume, but without Boseman, T'Challa would simply not be the same hero who created this swell of pride and unity.
His performances across the four Marvel movies he appeared in were flawless, and the sense of honour, fearlessness, and gravitas he brought to the role will inspire people for generations to come. There was something special about Boseman, and while everyone who worked on Black Panther behind and in front of the camera helped create the beautiful, exciting, and often awe-inspiring first superhero film to be nominated for "Best Picture," he was the heart at the centre of that.
Looking ahead to the future, there will be fans who can't help but wonder whether the role will be recast in time for 2022's Black Panther II or whether Marvel Studios might go back to the drawing board and perhaps have Letitia Wright's Shuri inherit the mantle as she did in the comic books. Right now, it's unfathomable to debate what comes next, but Black Panther should live on, and we should forever be grateful to Boseman for bringing him to the big screen in such an effective, memorable way. What he went through these past four years proves that he was every bit the warrior T'Challa was on screen, and shows why there was no one better to play this character.
Wakanda has lost its King. Hollywood has lost one of its brightest stars. Chadwick Boseman's friends and family have lost someone who meant more to them than we'll ever know. However, the impact he had on this world won't be forgotten.