By Karina Wensjoe
After a difficult four year battle, Actor Chadwick Boseman passed away on August 29th of colon cancer at 43 years old. Boseman will never be forgotten for his participation in the most admirable film roles of our generation. A prominent figure for Hollywood, and the world, Boseman’s contributions to the film industry have dynamically changed perspectives on diversity and inclusivity for leading blockbuster roles. The South Carolina native is now resting in his home state but his legacy will not go unspoken. Although most people, especially Marvel fanatics, attribute Boseman for his role as T’Challa in Black Panther, the late actor had participated in other eminent films that revolutionized the box-office momentum, touching on more historical figures in Black socio-political history. Boseman’s roles turned to insurmountable leads that actors today would not be able to replicate. In commemorating his life’s work, we have gathered a list of the greatest roles he’s done in his honor. Fighting in combat both on and off-screen, Boseman attempted to personify strong, independent, and revolutionary figures that narrated historical and present-day roles for audiences to admire.
In 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first Black Major League baseball player to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers and eventually inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. 42 scored a riveting $97.5 million at box-office sales worldwide as one of the highest debuted baseball films in history. Not only does Robinson’s courage live on, but Boseman’s portrayal of the obstacles in Robinson’s rise to success was outstanding in so many ways. While outlining the tensions between Blacks and Whites during the 1940s, Boseman was able to give a personal perspective into Robinson’s triumphs and failures. Simply, the late actor did not fade away from admirably representing Robinson’s life and legacy on screen. A fantastic piece on racial integration during times of stringent division, Boseman, with only a hint of little league experience as a child, was able to personify Robinson in his truest form. “The story is relevant because we still stand on his shoulders,” Boseman said. “He started something—I would even say maybe he didn't even start it, it started before him. But he carried the torch. And he carried it alone for a period of time before other people could help him.”
Get on Up
Known as one of the most influential funk musicians in history, Boseman’s memoir of James Brown in Get on Up is chronicled from his life in poverty to his rise in fame. A slick, savvy, and musically defining piece, the film proves that there is not a historical figure Boseman cannot render. Not only can he act the part, but Boseman was comfortable in providing some of his singing and dancing skills too. In delineating Brown’s life, from experiencing an impoverished, turbulent childhood to facing racism for his determination to obtain a musical career, the film doesn’t back down in portraying vital moments in history that defined the life of the “Godfather of Soul.”
A revolutionary masterpiece on one of the most important political figures in history, Marshall delineates the life of a young, confident lawyer who became one of the first African-American justices to serve in the U.S. Supreme Court. Boseman, who plays the role of Thurgood Marshall, delivers a manifestation of Marshall's most notable case as a lawyer for NAACP. In fighting against the United States justice system to save an innocent man from a crime he did not commit, Marshall’s influence landed him a seat on one of the most prestigious political branches in government. A sensational hit, the late actor’s portrayal epitomizes the injustices against Black Americans and Marshall’s attempts in defending innocent petitioners from unjust allegations brought upon them.
In 2018, Marvel Universe productions provided audiences a culturally diverse narrative, bringing in one of the best warriors to join the Avengers assembly. Boseman in Black Panther plays the role of T’Challa, a heart-warming, valiant, and loyal king to the people of his country. The film takes place after Boseman’s role in Captain America: Civil War, where T’Challa is first introduced. On his return to Wakanda, a more technologically advanced country in Africa, he learns that some people wish to share their benefits with the rest of the continent. Throughout the film, Boseman provides vigor and strength as T’Challa who is challenged for his position as king from factions within his own country. When his enemies conspire to destroy Wakanda, T’Challa steps up in support of those in need and fights for their justice. In an interview regarding the concept of Black Panther, Boseman said “You might say that this African nation is fantasy. But to have the opportunity to pull from real ideas, real places, and real African concepts, and put it inside of this idea of Wakanda—that's a great opportunity to develop what a sense of identity is, especially when you're disconnected from it.” An amazing cast with an excellent leading figure, Boseman was the perfect choice for the main character and will forever live in the hearts of audiences around the world.
After hearing about the death of Boseman, I was speechless and distraught from the news. I could not find the words at first to put together to express my feelings on the late actor. Simply, Boseman had made a true impact on the world, and to me. Having watched his films left me captivated by his performances. Boseman was a man of authenticity and talent who changed the spectrum of Hollywood within a couple of years. He bridged the gap between what people expected of box-office films with unique and versatile ideas.
Karina Wensjoe is an editorial intern who is knowledgeable in all things travel, beauty, and sustainability.