Goodbye, Black Panther!

The unexpected death at age 43 of Chadwick Boseman who played American cinema’s first black super-hero in Black Panther comes as a complete shock

Chadwick Boseman (Photo courtesy: Twitter)
Chadwick Boseman (Photo courtesy: Twitter)

Subhash K Jha

The unexpected death at age 43 of Chadwick Boseman who played American cinema’s first black super-hero in  Black Panther comes as a complete shock to me.

Really, how much crueler is 2020 going to get? Boseman’s fans were eagerly looking forward to the Black Panther sequel  which kept getting postponed. Now we  know why. Boseman a super-hero in real life too, was battling cancer for four years. He never let the world know the pain, the struggle to remain physically afloat, one of the world’s sexiest men and all that,  while from inside his physiology was giving way.

I remember seeing him on a talk show last year looking as fit as a fiddle (and probably feeling  like  shit) promoting  the disappointing  21 Bridges where he spoke about physical fitness and fans  and coping with popularity. Not a peep into the monstrous  pain he was going through.

To be a super-hero on screen is one thing. To be able to fight such a debilitating disease and to keep up the public image of being in good health, require inhuman volumes of strength and courage .

We salute you, Chadwick. Imagine having to film a tough physical action film like  21  Bridges  on the streets of New York when you were so unwell. The film’s release was delayed several times. Now we know why.  I didn’t like the film when I first saw it and  I hated  Boseman’s last film the overrated Netflix-Spike Lee  superhit Da 5 Bloods.

But now I  will go back to both. Now I know the struggle and toil that Boseman put in to these films as he fought off death. Like Christopher Reeve who remained Superman  from his wheelchair,  Boseman will remain  Black Panther  from beyond his death.

Don’t even dare to replace him with another black actor. The film will flop.

America has only one black president so far. And only one on-screen black  super-hero as well. Interestingly Chadwick Boseman’s  most accomplished performance is not as  Black Panther but as the controversial American singer James Brown in the 2014 bio-pic Get On Up.

There was so much to do. So much unfinished  business. Chadwick had no right leaving everything so suddenly.

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