Chadwick Boseman, star of Black Panther, dead at 43: 'A king on and off screen'

Black Panther director Ryan Coogler, Michael B. Jordan, the Russo brothers, Marvel Studios and many others honor the actor, who died after a four-year fight with colon cancer.

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Chadwick Boseman


Tributes to Chadwick Boseman continued to pour in Monday following news that the actor died Friday at age 43. Boseman, who starred in Marvel's Black Panther and Netflix's Da 5 Bloods, was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer in 2016.

"I'm more aware now than ever that time is short with people we love and admire," Michael B. Jordan, who played opposite Boseman in Black Panther, posted to Instagram Monday. "I'm gonna miss your honesty, your generosity, your sense of humor, and incredible gifts. I'll miss the gift of sharing space with you in scenes. I'm dedicating the rest of my days to live the way you did. 

"One of the last times we spoke, you said we were forever linked," Jordan wrote in a lengthy post, "and now the truth of that means more to me than ever." 

Marvel also published a touching tribute video on Sunday.

View this post on Instagram

I’ve been trying to find the words, but nothing comes close to how I feel. I’ve been reflecting on every moment, every conversation, every laugh, every disagreement, every hug…everything. I wish we had more time. One of the last times we spoke, you said we were forever linked , and now the truth of that means more to me than ever. Since nearly the beginning of my career, starting with All My Children when I was 16 years old you paved the way for me. You showed me how to be better, honor purpose, and create legacy. And whether you’ve known it or not…I’ve been watching, learning and constantly motivated by your greatness. I wish we had more time. Everything you’ve given the world … the legends and heroes that you’ve shown us we are … will live on forever. But the thing that hurts the most is that I now understand how much of a legend and hero YOU are. Through it all, you never lost sight of what you loved most. You cared about your family , your friends, your craft, your spirit. You cared about the kids, the community, our culture and humanity. You cared about me. You are my big brother, but I never fully got a chance to tell you, or to truly give you your flowers while you were here. I wish we had more time. I'm more aware now than ever that time is short with people we love and admire. I’m gonna miss your honesty, your generosity, your sense of humor, and incredible gifts. I’ll miss the gift of sharing space with you in scenes. I’m dedicating the rest of my days to live the way you did. With grace, courage, and no regrets. “Is this your king!?” Yes . he . is! Rest In Power Brother.

A post shared by Michael B. Jordan (@michaelbjordan) on

Black Panther director Ryan Coogler recalled first seeing Boseman as T'Challa, aka Black Panther, in Captain America: Civil War. "I'll never forget, sitting in an editorial suite on the Disney Lot and watching his scenes," Coogler said in a statement released Sunday via The Hollywood Reporter

"It was at that moment I knew I wanted to make this movie. After Scarlett [Johansson's] character leaves them, Chad and John [Kani] began conversing in a language I had never heard before. It sounded familiar, full of the same clicks and smacks that young black children would make in the States. The same clicks that we would often be chided for being disrespectful or improper. But, it had a musicality to it that felt ancient, powerful, and African."

"Chadwick was such an elegant man with great integrity and tremendous talent," tweeted brothers Anthony and Joseph Russo, who directed him in 2018 blockbuster Avengers: Infinity War and 2019's Avengers: Endgame. "He inspired an entire generation to stand up and be king. Honor him by emulating him -- show kindness and love to others. Share your talents in ways that impact. Always strive to be a light in the darkness." 

The actor died in his Los Angeles home alongside his wife and other members of his family, Boseman's publicist, Nicki Fioravante, informed the Associated Press. Boseman had never spoken publicly about his battle with cancer.

"A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much," his family said in a statement. "From Marshall to Da 5 Bloods, August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and several more -- all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy. It was the honor of his career to bring King T'Challa to life in Black Panther." Twitter later said the family's tweet was the most-liked ever on the social network. As of late Saturday afternoon, Pacific time, it had nearly 6 million likes. 

In a 2018 interview with CNET Magazine, Boseman talked about all the reasons he loved playing the king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda. "I love that he thinks about other people," Boseman said. "He's not afraid to hear wise counsel. I think there is some fear of being wrong. I identify with that, with his plight, his personality. And I love him because the fantasy of playing a ruler -- you never get to do that. You never get to explore what that is. It's fun having power and having a say in what happens to the people around you."

Watch this: Chadwick Boseman loves a good challenge

Born in 1976 in South Carolina to a nurse and textile worker, Boseman was initially known for his portrayal of real-life figures like James Brown in Get on Up, Jackie Robinson in 42 and Thurgood Marshall in Marshall. He rose to superstardom when cast as Black Panther in numerous movies set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe , including Avengers: Endgame; Captain America: Civil War; and Black Panther -- a groundbreaking comic book movie that scored seven nominations at the 91st Academy Awards, including Best Picture. 

But beyond the awards and the billion dollar box office gross, Black Panther and Chadwick Boseman helped usher in an era of better representation in comic book movies, and in Hollywood more broadly. 

Most recently he starred in Da 5 Bloods, a drama directed by Spike Lee, playing Norman Earl Holloway, a freedom fighter in the Vietnam war.

Mark Mann

Tributes from fans and peers in Hollywood and beyond poured in immediately after the news broke Friday. 

Denzel Washington, who secretly paid for Boseman to study acting at Oxford University, remembered him in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter as "a gentle soul and a brilliant artist." 

"A deeply gifted man is gone too soon," Mark Hamill tweeted. "His memory will blaze on fiercely... from here to eternity." Wrote actor Mike Colter, "You were a king on and off screen."

"Your legacy will live on forever," Marvel Studios tweeted. DC Comics also shared a tribute: "To a hero who transcends universes. Wakanda Forever."  

Boseman died on Jackie Robinson Day, which honors the professional baseball player he portrayed in the 2013 film 42. Survivors include his brothers, Kevin and Derrick Boseman, and his wife, Taylor Simone Ledward. 

First published on Aug. 28, 2020 at 7:21 p.m. PT.