It is rare that an actor portraying a superhero so adequately fill the role, serving almost as superhero themselves. However, that was very much the case with Chadwick Boseman, who played Jackie Robinson in the movie 42, King T’Challa in the Black Panther, Thurgood Marshall in Marshall, in addition to other remarkable roles.
Boseman tragically passed away yesterday, after a four year fight with colon cancer. I did not know he was battling colon cancer, and I’m guessing many others didn’t know about this either. And why would we expect anything given the larger than life performances he gave in multiple demanding, action-packed roles.
And in so doing, Boseman demonstrated true strength, fighting a chronic and ultimately fatal disease while living his life to the fullest. He not only entertained us, he set an example for the world to follow, an example of how much success a movie can have with a strong person of color as the lead. More then that, he set an example of what an actor can do off the screen as well as on, embodying the role of King T’Challa so well that he brought the fictional nation of Wakanda to life.
Yet, it is the fact that he did all this while fighting cancer that I want to circle back to. For so many of us who battle mental illness, or other chronic health conditions, Boseman’s strength can serve as an example for all of us to follow, an example of how we can live life to the fullest despite having these battles. How it is possible to be defined by so much more than our illnesses.
Chadwick Boseman’s amazing talent will most certainly be missed on the screen. Yet the larger than life strength he brought to this life will be missed perhaps even more. He was the superhero the world needed, and 2020 of course would be the year that he would be taken from us. Yet hopefully his life can continue to touch others in the work he did and the strength he displayed.
Rest in Power King T’Challa. Wakanda Forever.