Chadwick Boseman had a unique ability to bring legendary characters to life

FILE – In this January 29, 2018 file photo of ‘Black Panther’ actor Chadwick Boseman poses at the film’s Los Angeles premiere. Actor Chadwick Boseman, who played black icons Jackie Robinson and James Brown before rising to fame as the Royal Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has died of cancer. His representative says Boseman died on Friday, August 28, 2020 in Los Angeles after a four-year battle with colon cancer. He was 43 years old. (Photo by Chris Pizzello / Invision / AP, File)
From there, however, the actor – who passed away friday after a battle with colon cancer – crammed a lifetime of iconic roles into a brief period, a premature loss made more tragic by thoughts of where her career might have been in the years to come.
Playing Marvel’s Black Panther in this film and a trio of other films obviously raised Boseman’s profile. But he surrounded that superhero role with iconic dramatic figures as well as historical figures, and was clearly on course to translate his popularity into the kind of multi-faceted and enduring career few actors achieve.
Not all heroes wear a hood or cloak, as Boseman demonstrated via filmography, defining his ability to find humanity in larger-than-life characters. In addition to “42,” he starred in “Get On Up,” playing singer James Brown in a biography chronicling his rise from poverty to stardom; and “Marshall”, describing future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall earlier in his court career and fighting for justice.

In playing the latter, he joined Sidney Poitier, Laurence Fishburne and Danny Glover on the list of actors who appeared as Marshall on screen.

Recent films reflected the breadth of his resume. Boseman played a minor but essential role in director Spike Lee’s film “Da 5 Bloods”, a Netflix movie that uses a scavenger hunt to contemplate the experience of African American soldiers during the Vietnam War.

In a lighter vein, he produced and starred in the “21 Bridges” action vehicle, with a production crew that included “Avengers” directors Joe and Anthony Russo.

Meanwhile, “My Rainey’s Black Bottom,” an adaptation of August Wilson’s acclaimed play set in the 1920s, with Viola Davis as the title blues singer and Boseman as a musician.

A first preview of the film – which is positioned by Netflix among its year-end award nominees – was canceled following news of Boseman’s death, Variety reported.
Amid the outpouring of tributes, Los Angeles Times critic Justin Chang Noted that Boseman “brought heroes and legends out of the pages of fiction and history.” Disney President Robert Iger not only praised Boseman’s work, but cried “all that he was, and all that he was destined to become.”
In a maintenance 2017, Boseman said he did not consciously seek out culturally meaningful roles, but possessed the qualities that can bring such legendary characters to life, whether they come from history books or comics. .

Boseman’s historic work in these Marvel blockbusters will be played out and re-enacted over the years. Yet his smaller-scale forays into America’s past are an equally rich part of his legacy, in a way that further cements his place in that history.

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