Remembering Chadwick Boseman

Remembering Chadwick Boseman

Noah Mruz, Film Reviewer

As a film studies student, you watch a lot of movies. Most of my film classes have one or two films assigned each week with assignments and papers tagged along with. Certain classes have certain themes: war, action, western and melodrama. Yet, since my freshman year, one film has been assigned in each of my classes: Black Panther. By the tenth time I watched it for class I thought, “I could recite this entire film from memory, I don’t know if I need to see it again.”


I remember watching Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson in 42 and being captivated by his performance. He brought the light and the dark side to the legend of Jackie Robinson: a man that endured so much pain and fear while breaking the color barrier in baseball, yet rising above it. It wasn’t long after that when I learned that Boseman would be playing the Black Panther in the newest Captain America film at the time. He was a character I knew nothing about, yet seeing Boseman in 42 made me want to know more, because he was so moving and heartfelt in that role. I went into Black Panther excited and left in admiration. It is still an achievement in filmmaking to showcase not only a predominantly black cast, but crew as well. It wasn’t long after Black Panther that the world knew the name Chadwick Boseman. Winning three Oscars and being nominated for best picture alongside Spike Lee’s Blackkklansman, Boseman would soon join the rest of the Avengers cast for the next two installments in the films.


Then, the controversy began: Boseman had lost a lot of weight.


I remember reading headlines at the time accusing Boseman of abusing drugs or developing anorexia. Every speculation accused Boseman of some horrendous personal failing instead of giving him the opportunity to recuperate and heal in peace.


Optimism and strength, despite opposing forces, was something shown in several of Boseman’s films. Yet he stayed silent on the subject of his weight loss. In June, the most recent Spike Lee film, Da 5 Bloods, was released, and I remember thinking “I need to watch this when I get a chance.” Work and summer classes were taking up most of my time, and I never got that moment to stop and enjoy a film with a director and actor I idolized. On August 28, I had the day off, my summer classes had finished, and I remember feeling bliss about having nothing to do. Then the notification: “Dan has shared a tweet with you: BROOO :((((((“. I opened it to see that at the age of 43, Chadwick Boseman had passed away with a 4-year struggle with cancer. I didn’t believe what I read.


Tears soon followed as I started to grasp that he was gone. Boseman had been battling cancer for 4 years, all while acting in films such as Marshal, Black Panther, Avengers Endgame, and Da 5 Bloods. It was hard not to go to bed in tears. This year has been terrible for all of us, and now another legend has passed. I revisited an older clip from his Twitter where he and other castmates were playing a prank on Spike Lee in-between filming. Laughing and smiling, that video resonates differently, now with the context of what he was going through.


Only a few hours later, Josh Gad, a friend to Boseman, shared one of the last texts he received from him. I would recommend you read these tweets for yourself and think of the struggle this man was face, and the optimism he still felt. He talked about how he was upset to see it was raining in sunny California for three days, but when the rain stopped, he took a moment to breath in the fresh air and enjoy the sun. He encouraged his friend to enjoy every moment he could with the life around him. Despite being faced with an incredibly difficult and painful 4-year struggle–something that would turn anyone into a pessimist–Chadwick Boseman waited for the sunny days and took deep breaths in those moments to be present.


By the time you’re reading this, Boseman’s passing has come and gone in the news, now focusing on what crazy thing the right or left are saying before our upcoming election. Some articles are even emerging focusing on what Disney and Marvel can do to “salvage” the upcoming Black Panther 2.


If you asked me, I’d recommend you watch 42, Marshal, Da 5 Bloods and Black Panther, even though I’m sure all of you have seen them by now. Beyond those recommendations, I’d say to text a friend or family member and remind them you love them. When they get worried why you are saying this out of the blue and assume somethings wrong, tell them it’s just a reminder of something they shouldn’t forget. Go outside and take a breath of fresh air. Winter is on its way and that will only make going outside a lot scarcer. Finally, remember every day is a good or bad day depending on how you look at it. I’m not sure where I heard this adage but realize that it takes six good events and moments to make a day “good”, yet only one to make it “bad.”


You can stop reading now, this next part is only for Chadwick.


Rest in Power, King. Thank you for the joy and laughter you have brought me, and the perseverance you have shown me in your actions.