I had originally intended to write about DC Fandome, the massive two-day digital event held by DC Comics last month. I suspect I still will down the road given how much news came out of the event; however, tragedy struck last week when the world lost a king.
Chadwick Boseman died after a four-year battle with colon cancer. He was only 43 years old.
This news came as a compete shock to so many because Boseman did not make his diagnosis and subsequent treatment public. Instead, he quietly battled this disease while maintaining his acting career – an astonishing feat given the toll cancer treatments can take on the human body.
Boseman's impact on pop-culture and the world as a whole can not be understated. He was already an accomplished actor, portraying Black icons such as Jackie Robinson and James Brown. But he was thrust into into the stratosphere of superstardom just two years ago with the release of Marvel Studio's “Black Panther,” the 18th film of the interconnected Marvel Cinematic Universe.
First introduced in “Captain America: Civil War,” T'Challa, the prince of the African nation of Wakanda, clawed his way into the MCU after watching his father die early on in that movie. Boseman brought an unparalleled sense to dignity and weight to the character, bringing the audience on a deeply emotional journey in a film that was already crowded with the Avengers' internal conflict and the introduction of Spider-Man to the MCU. Boseman's Black Panther stood out among the crowd, leaving audiences wanting more.
What we got was a movie that broke barriers for what a superhero movie could be.
“Black Panther,” led by a nearly all-Black cast, set worldwide records at the box office, bringing in $1.34 billion. The conflicting worldviews between T'Challa and his newly discovered cousin, nicknamed Killmonger, mirrored real world issues of systemic racism, oppression and social injustice. Across the internet, memes and messages expressing sympathy toward the plight of the antagonist spread quickly. His frustration and determination for change resonated with many facing these issues across the world.
As the newly crowned king of Wakanda, T'Challa knew that his father was wrong to leave the child fatherless in America, left to his own devices as a means to grow up. But he also knew that violence was not the answer. T'Challa was the beacon of hope the fictional Marvel world needed.
Likewise, Boseman as a human was equally a beacon of hope and positivity we should all aspire to be in the real world.
Diagnosed in 2016 with stage 3 colon cancer, Boseman told very few of his illness. Instead, he carried on with the grace and dignity of the king he portrayed in film. In 2018, Boseman visited children with cancer at St. Jude's Hospital. In retrospect, knowing what he was battling in secret, he truly was the ultimate inspiration for those far too young to be battling such diseases.
In a world so divided right now, we desperately need more good people like Chadwick Boseman. People that can rise above the rhetoric and hate to not only say the right things, but to act in a way that demonstrates what it truly means to “lead by example.” We can all only hope to be as strong as he was.
Many have protrayed superheros on film and television, but very few can say they lived their real life as a superhero. Chadwick Boseman, through grace, dignity and unparalleled strength, did just that.
The Marvel Universe lost its king, but more importantly, the world lost a hero.
The American Cancer Society recommends that people at average risk of colorectal cancer begin regular screenings as 45 years of age. For more information about colorectal cancer, including screening guidelines, treatment options and more, visit https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer.html.