I’ve been musing on why I found the death of Chadwick Boseman so affecting. Only recently I noted three films he starred in. “MARSHALL (2017) a biopic starring Chadwick Boseman as Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall I had intended to see.” Ditto for the film GET ON UP (2014), about the Godfather of Soul James Brown that I had coincidentally recorded to the DVR last month.
I had started watching 42 (2013) the movie about Jackie Robinson. It was the day I was being discharged from the hospital after a health scare. I think I tried to stall my release time to finish watching it.
Cancer. As the Chicago Tribune noted, “The cancer was there when his character T’Challa visited the ancestors’ ‘astral plane’ in poignant scenes from the Oscar-nominated ‘Black Panther,’ there when he first became a producer on the action-thriller ’21 Bridges,’ and there last summer when he shot an adaptation of a play by his hero August Wilson…”
The South Carolinian died at the age of 43 of colon cancer, only a couple years older than my brother-in-law John when he died of the same damn disease in 2002. And while I knew of John’s struggle, most of us didn’t know Chadwick had been diagnosed at stage 3 in 2016. It was none of our business, but I’m always surprised when something can remain a secret in Hollywood.
A bit of Killmonger
I totally get this quote. Boseman said he “more easily identified with” Black Panther’s “antagonist, played by Michael B. Jordan, who had been cut off from his ancestral roots: ‘I was born with some Killmonger in me, and I have learned to T’Challa throughout my studies.'”
“‘It’s the place where you start. All African Americans, unless they have some direct connection, have been severed from that past. There are things that cannot be tracked. You were a product, sold. So it’s very difficult as an African American to connect at some points directly to Africa. I have made that part of my search in my life. So those things were already there when I got into the role.'”
In my review of Black Panther, which I LOVED, that Chadwick Boseman had the less showy part. That’s not meant as a knock on the actor. The “villain” often gets the juicier role.
Incidentally, the Howard University graduate noted on Stephen Colbert’s show his roots. DNA testing indicated that his ancestors were Krio people and Limba people from Sierra Leone, and the Yoruba people from Nigeria.
His unexpected death brought out tons of tributes. “Marvel Studios president and CCO Kevin Feige called Boseman’s death ‘absolutely devastating,'” and I would agree. “‘Each time he stepped on set, he radiated charisma and joy, and each time he appeared on screen, he created something truly indelible.'” As a good friend of mine and I said when we departed last month, “Wakanda forever.”