Boseman was not just another Black actor pushing diversity, he showed any man could be superman
Legends die young. And 2020 has not been a kind year, particularly to those in the entertainment industry, both in India and abroad. But the death of Hollywood actor Chadwick Boseman at a young age of 43 hurts that much more. Because he was the Black Panther, the avenger of wrongs, the challenger of a White world and a transitional perfection from man to superman. Because he was the king of Wakanda, upholding the spirit of tradition and embracing modernity with that rare combination of warmth and intelligence. He may have played Black icons like Jackie Robinson and James Brown but as Black Panther, that lithe, smart and fearless warrior, he transcended barriers and made a place in everybody’s hearts. Black Panther was the first superhero film to be nominated for a best picture Oscar and one of the highest-grossing films of all time, bringing in over $1.3 billion. This despite the many icons emerging from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In life, Boseman was no less a fighter. In between his fight with cancer, numerous surgeries and chemotherapy sessions, he gave us films like Marshall, Da 5 Bloods, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and many more. A private man, he had kept the news of his fight with the disease to himself and married his long-time partner and singer Taylor Simon Ledward earlier this year, maybe because he knew the end was near. And he never forgot to wish his friend and Democrat Vice-Presidential candidate Kamala Harris a few days ago.
Black Panther will always represent a watershed moment in popular culture, particularly for African-Americans. A legacy that Boseman was clearly very proud of and for which he had travelled to Africa. The film was considered to be a positive force for social change in the US and at that time, activist Frederick T Joseph raised money through a GoFundMe campaign called “Help Children See Black Panther.” He was quoted as saying that he was promoting “stories and content that’s combatting the rhetoric and racism of the Trump Administration.” In fact, the film made Marvel consider more inclusions. Black Widow and Captain Marvel are more than just about women empowerment, they are the carriers of the future. However, a realist, Boseman himself did not think that Black Panther had in any way solved Hollywood’s much-touted diversity issues. He said that it came about as a result of a moment that had been building over years with works like the Martin Luther King drama Selma, the Disney fantasy-adventure A Wrinkle in Time and TV shows such as Insecure. He believed that quality film-making was needed for Hollywood to embrace diversity as the new normal rather than just doing movies with a Black cast and director. His own work he considered as “just another doorway into something else.” Hopefully a perennial kingdom called Wakanda.
Courtesy: The Pioneer