Chadwick Boseman, best known for playing Black Panther in the hit Marvel superhero franchise, has died at the age of 43.
The American actor’s death was confirmed by his family via his social media accounts. He had been battling colon cancer for the past four years but had not made the information public.
Posting on his accounts, his family said:
“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 the 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.”
— Chadwick Boseman (@chadwickboseman) August 29, 2020
Born in South Carolina, Boseman enrolled at Howard University in Washington, D.C. where he graduated with a bachelor of fine arts in directing. He subsequently attended the British American Drama Academy in Oxford with his tuition being paid by two-time Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington.
Boseman’s screen career began in television where he made numerous guest appearances in American programmes like Law & Order (2004), CSI: NY (2006), ER (2008), Lie to Me (2009) and Justified (2011). He also had expanded roles in the likes of Lincoln Heights (2008-09) and Persons Unknown (2010).
He soon made the leap into film and was particularly prominent in biopics. The first of those was a small part as Floyd Little in the college football drama The Express (2008).
Boseman soon became a leading man starting with his appearance as Lt. Samuel Drake in the critically-mauled war thriller The Kill Hole (2012). However, he soon bounced back when he landed lucrative leading roles as two renowned figures in African-American history.
The first of those was as baseball legend Jackie Robinson in the sports biopic 42 (2013) which was followed by his portrayal of soul singer James Brown in the music-based drama Get On Up (2014).
Though both films received mixed reviews, Boseman garnered praise from critics and this helped him secure a certain key role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Following appearances in the historical flop Gods of Egypt (2016) and the Netflix thriller Message from the King (2016), Boseman would make his Marvel debut as Wakanda leader T’Challa and his alter-ego Black Panther in the Captain America ‘threequel’ Civil War (2016).
Fans welcomed his introduction to the MCU although he would make his return to biopics with his performance as crusading lawyer Thurgood Marshall in the crime drama Marshall (2017).
However, his role as T’Challa would dominate his career for the next couple of years starting with the character’s own standalone outing; Black Panther (2018).
As well as winning critical praise and taking more than $1.3 billion (£973m) at cinemas worldwide, the film was widely seen as a cultural milestone for having a largely black cast and a black director. Additionally, it won Best Ensemble at the SAG Awards and was also the first superhero feature to receive an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.
Boseman would then portray T’Challa / Black Panther again in the last two Avengers instalments starting with Infinity War (2018). Though the character was one of many to fall victim to Thanos’s snap in the film’s strong climax, he would end up being one of the first to make an emotional return during the infamous portals’ scene of Endgame (2019).
His final three on-screen appearances were a far cry from the Marvel series with the first of those being as New York detective Andre Davis in the crime thriller 21 Bridges (2019). He then followed that up with his role as soldier Stormin’ Norman in the Spike Lee war drama Da 5 Bloods which is currently showing on Netflix.
Boseman had also recently filmed his part as Levee alongside Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis in the music-based drama Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom which is due for release sometime next year.
He was also set to reprise his role as T’Challa for Black Panther 2 but what happens with the character now remains to be seen.
Boseman is survived by his singer wife Taylor Simone Ledward who he recently married last year.