Wakanda Forever

Chadwick Boseman as Stormin’ Norman in ‘Da 5 Bloods’ – Netflix

The following article is a tribute to Chadwick Boseman.

On the 28th of August 2020, Chadwick Boseman’s family announced that Boseman had passed away as a result of complications related to colon cancer, which he had been diagnosed with in 2016. Since I woke up to that announcement the following day, I have been trying to figure out a way to pay tribute to an actor, who I, and many others, had become a huge fan of in the previous decade. In this article, I have tried to put into words how gifted he was and how special he was. At the end of August 2020, we said goodbye to a king whose strength was greater than any of us ever imagined.

I vividly remember the moment Chadwick Boseman was announced as T’Challa (Black Panther) in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I was sitting on a couch next to my father. He was watching something on the television, while I was following liveblogs and social media coverage of Marvel Studios’ unveiling of their then-upcoming film slate in the El Capitan theater in late-October 2014. Among other things, Black Panther’s inclusion in Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther’s solo film, and the fact that Chadwick Boseman would play the African superhero king was announced. I was elated. With a huge smile on my face, I would proclaim that I had ‘called it.’

For quite some time, Boseman had been the actor that I wanted to play the part (I think I even wrote about it on this website), and it made me so excited to know that he was getting that opportunity. At that point in his career, with performances in Brian Helgeland’s 42, Ivan Reitman’s Draft Day, and Tate Taylor’s Get On Up, Boseman’s star was rising and rising fast. Like Kevin Costner’s character in Draft Day (a film about a Cleveland Browns general manager during an all-important NFL draft), I wanted Chadwick Boseman, no matter what.

In his career, Chadwick Boseman took on plenty of culturally important roles. When you look back on his shortened career, you realize that he, as a performer, became synonymous with larger-than-life or historically noteworthy figures such as Jackie Robinson, James Brown, and Thurgood Marshall. But the role that he will probably be remembered best for is the role of T’Challa, the superheroic king of a fictional African nation, known best for his alter ego, Black Panther. Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther became an Oscar-winning film whose cultural importance was immeasurable. It is a wonderful film that touched many lives greatly, and it may end up as the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s most culturally important film. It broke new ground, it shattered barriers, and it built bridges.

I can think of no other actor more suitable for the role — or the Wakanda throne — than Chadwick Boseman. Boseman was an effortlessly cool and regal screen presence who became an icon and was a true screen legend in the making. Like when Anton Yelchin and Heath Ledger passed away, it feels like we have lost someone whose star was still on the rise. Chadwick Boseman was not just a great actor, he was also an eloquent culturally important figure and a role model.

He was an elegant but regal actor who could make you stand up and take notice. He was a giving performer, whose confident and reliable commitment appeared to empower and enhance his co-stars, and, by all accounts, he was a giving person. It is absolutely incredible that he fought with his condition since 2016 and still managed to be so committed, infallible, and powerful. He had an unfathomable strength. I will always be a fan.

That journalists, critics, and bloggers all around the world have felt inspired to write tributes to Chadwick Boseman’s memory speaks volumes about the kind of performer and person he was. I am, of course, adding my tribute to the deluge of wonderful tributes written over the last few days by gifted writers who hope to honor an icon that has meant a lot to all of us. But, if you have the strength, then I strongly encourage you to seek out tributes from those who knew him or worked with him. I was particularly moved by Ryan Coogler’s statement, and there are others like it. Finally, I send kind thoughts, positive energy, and love to his family and his friends. Rest in peace, Chadwick Boseman. Wakanda forever.

– Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.

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