Shockwaves of grief are being felt across social media, as word of a superhero’s death continues to spread.
On Friday night, Chadwick Boseman’s family posted a statement to the actor’s Instagram page, revealing that he’d succumbed to stage four colon cancer.
“Chadwick was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016, and battled with it these last 4 years as it progressed to stage IV,” the statement began.
“A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much. 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,” the statement continued. “He died in his home, with his wife and family by his side.”
Many were stunned by the announcement, especially since Boseman had never publicly revealed his diagnosis.
Fellow actors, members of the Marvel Universe and fans are posting about their grief and sharing their treasured memories of the “Black Panther” star.
“What a gentle gifted SOUL. Showing us all that Greatness in between surgeries and chemo. The courage, the strength, the Power it takes to do that. This is what Dignity looks like,” Oprah Tweeted.
On Instagram, Angela Bassett, who starred as Ramonda opposite Boseman’s T'Challa in “Black Panther,” shared a sweet memory of Boseman.
“During the premiere party for Black Panther, Chadwick reminded me of something. He whispered that when I received my honorary degree from Howard University, his alma mater, he was the student assigned to escort me that day. And here we were, years later as friends and colleagues, enjoying the most glorious night ever!”
Bernice King tweeted, “Don’t belittle a person mourning someone they never ‘met.’ We met Chadwick in the worlds to which he invited us. And we mourn.”
Co-star Chris Evans said he was devastated. “Chadwick was special. A true original. He was a deeply committed and constantly curious artist. He had so much amazing work still left to create. I’m endlessly grateful for our friendship. Rest in power, King,” he tweeted.
Boseman was born in Anderson, South Carolina. In 2000, he graduated from Howard University. Shortly after, he moved to New York City, originally intending to become a writer or director. He graduated from New York’s Digital Film Academy before moving to Los Angeles to pursue acting.
Boseman’s first television role was in 2003, on an episode of “Third Watch.” He would go on to appear in “All My Children,” “Lincoln Heights,” and “Castle,” before he brought Jackie Robinson back to life in “42.”
That role would begin Boseman’s run portraying groundbreaking people, both real and fictional, including Thurgood Marshall in “Marshall,” James Brown in “Get On Up,” and King T’Challa in 2018’s breakout Marvel smash, “Black Panther.”
In a 2018 interview with SiriusXM, Boseman welled up discussing two small children he’d met named Ian and Taylor who’d recently passed away from terminal cancer. Boseman said he had been in contact with them while filming “Black Panther.”
“Their parents said they’re trying to hold on until this movie comes,” he started. “To a certain degree, it’s a humbling experience, because you’re like, ‘This can’t mean that much to them.’ You know? But seeing how the world has taken this on, seeing how the movement and how it’s taken on a life of its own, I realize that they anticipated something great...it means a lot,” Boseman said through tears.
When he won several MTV Movie Awards later that year for that role, Boseman gave one to James Shaw Jr., who’d been lauded as a hero after disarming an armed man at a Tennessee Waffle House, who had allegedly killed four people. That suspect is in jail awaiting trial.
“Receiving an award for playing a superhero is amazing, but it’s even greater to acknowledge the heroes we have in real life,” Boseman beamed, as he handed Shaw the popcorn trophy on stage.
Boseman passed away on the same day Major League Baseball held Jackie Robinson Day, honoring the legendary player who broke the MLB’s color barrier. Every single player wore number 42.
Boseman was 43 years old.