OPINION: Chadwick Boseman was a superhero who inspired the world

'Black Panther' actor died on Friday after four-year battle with colon cancer

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"Black Panther" actor Chadwick Boseman speaks at the 2017 Comic-Con international at the San Diego Convention Center on July 22, 2017. "Chadwick Boseman" by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Jordan Parker

When you’re an actor, you get one shot to wow a crowd. You either impress or disappoint. For me, Chadwick Boseman never failed to impress. He was a talent you could never get enough of.

It was a Twitter alert that sunk my heart. “’Black Panther’ actor Chadwick Boseman dies aged 43 after four-year battle with colon cancer.” I thought to myself, “Cancer? No, there was no way.” Sure enough, 2020 had handed the world another Black icon to mourn.

I met Boseman when I was thirteen. No, I didn’t meet him personally, but I met him on the screen when he played Jackie Robinson in “42.” I didn’t know who he was then, but I remember leaving the theater concluding that it was one of the best performances I had ever seen.

Of course, the role of Robinson needed to be cast right since he was an important figure to Black people in sports and baseball. Boseman knocked it out of the park. From there, a star was born.

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It wouldn’t be the last time that Boseman portrayed a Black icon. He also portrayed ‘The Godfather of Soul’ James Brown in “Get on Up” and Thurgood Marshall, the first African American Supreme Court justice, in “Marshall.”

Often people go on social media to talk about the “range” of certain actors, which refers to the variety of films they star in. I believe that Boseman showed unlimited range because of the diversity of each role he took on and made his own. Just look at his filmography and it would be hard to disagree.

Boseman was on the path to become not only one of the top Black actors of all time, but one of the best actors period.

These were not just transcendent performances, they were effortless. I never left a movie Boseman starred in disappointed.
His contagious smile and charisma on the screen made him impossible to dislike.

The greatest stretch of Boseman’s career came from 2016 to 2020, in which he was not only constantly in a battle for his life on the screen, but also off the screen where he battled with stage three colon cancer.

I’ve seen loved ones fight and die from cancer, so I am aware of what the disease can do to someone. For Boseman to keep going despite all of that not only makes him an inspiration to the world, but a true superhero.

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Most importantly, Boseman inspired Black kids like me all over the world and showed us that we could be superheroes too.

Growing up Black in America, you don’t really see too much of yourself in the Hollywood world. Sure, you saw the likes of Morgan Freeman, Samuel Jackson, Denzel Washington, Forest Whitaker, etc., but I’m talking about representation in movies and shows that kids watch.

This is a barrier that Boseman shattered. Before, a Black superhero looked out of the question, but when Boseman made his debut in “Avengers: Civil War” as the Black Panther, I knew he would be a staple of the franchise for years to come.

Not only was Boseman iconic, he reached heights that no other Marvel superhero had ever laid eyes on. Out of every Marvel superhero movie, “Black Panther” was the highest-grossing standalone movie in franchise history, making $1.34 billion worldwide.

When tragedy struck this past weekend, pictures of kids performing the “Wakanda forever” salute from “Black Panther” flooded social media, specifically Twitter and Instagram. Black Panther wasn’t just their hero, Chadwick Boseman was their hero.

Even after his passing, Boseman continued to add to his resume as the tweet from his Twitter announcing his death became the most liked tweet in the history of the social media platform. Simply put, it was a tribute fit for a king.

Despite his death, Boseman’s legacy will live on for years to come. I will not forget the greatness of the Black Panther just like the millions across the world won’t either.

My heart is truly broken over the passing of a cornerstone of the Black community and Boseman will remain in my heart forever. Wakanda Forever and until we meet again, my king. Rest in power.

My thoughts and prayers go out to his family during this difficult time.