Chadwick Boseman's Impact in Hollywood

The world was shaken when news of Chadwick Boseman’s passing came to light. There was even more surprise when it was released that he spent four years fighting colon cancer. Boseman was most known for playing King T’Challa in Marvel's Black Panther. While fighting colon cancer, Boseman still participated in multiple Marvel movies and put his all into them. He knew how important Black Panther was to the Black community, and he wanted to inspire others to follow their dreams. 

Though Black Panther is a huge part of Boseman’s work, he also worked in other films, taking on the roles of historical figures — he portrayed prominent figures such as Jackie Robinson, James Brown and Thurgood Marshall. Boseman knew the power he possessed and how much underrepresentation there was in Hollywood for people of color. Therefore, he knew how much Black Panther mattered. It was a major milestone, being the first Black superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

Chadwick Boseman and Lupita Nyong'o hugging Photo by Gage Skidmore distributed under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license

According to CNN, Boseman wanted to speak in an African accent, saying that, “I knew an African accent could carry all of that passion in the English language just as well as a British one could, if not better.” His goal was for Marvel to not show Africa in the way that everyone typically views it; The Washington Post stated that Boseman wanted to “ensure Africa wasn’t presented through a colonial lens.” This movie has helped bring knowledge and has changed the stereotypical way people thought of African culture. Boseman made sure to show the many different cultures of Africa, in a respectful way. 

The difference and importance of Black Panther is that it is purposefully stemmed in Africa, purposefully casting Black actors. The New York Times quoted Jamie Broadnax, the founder of Black Girl Nerds — a pop culture club centered on sci-fi and comic-book fandoms — saying, “These characters are, ‘rulers of a kingdom, inventors and creators of advanced technology. We are not dealing with Black pain, and Black suffering.’” Many movies that are purposefully casting Black actors or portraying something to do with African culture are discussing the pain they have felt from oppression. This movie, however, praises their heritage and encourages people to be proud of who they are. 

Black Panther will always have a place in many people’s hearts, whether Black, Hispanic, Marvel fan, or not. This movie has made an impact on so many people’s views, and for that, we thank you, T’Challa. 

Thank you, Chadwick Boseman. Wakanda Forever.

iPhone with images of Chadwick Boseman on it sitting on a keyboard Photo by Obi Onyeador from Unsplash