He could’ve been on the list, because he was barely over a week older than I. But because he did not discuss his illness, he wasn’t. After all, when you’re 43, you don’t expect people your age to die just yet. There are people decades older than I who I’ve pushed down the schedule in place of an older person who just went on living. I might’ve considered adding him for a theme month, but the idea that I should rush to write about Chadwick Boseman because he could die at any minute hadn’t occurred to me, and even after this, it probably still won’t. Because averages are a thing, and the average is that he won’t.
He studied directing. He got fired from All My Children (and replaced, in fact, by Michael B. Jordan) for voicing concerns about racist scripts. He wrote plays. He was, in many ways, the kind of thoughtful, talented writer/director/actor who we get every now and again and who will continue to be spoken of for decades . . . if they’re allowed the room for it. I suppose in a way Orson Welles killed chances for a lot of people like that to come by being all Orson Welles-y, but it’s still disappointing that we didn’t get to see Boseman’s career flourish the wya it should have and doubtless would have.
And, yes, T’Challa. Yes. I hear a lot from a lot of people about how much they hate the MCU, but I find that frustrating. It’s partially the “let people like things” aspect, because that’s something some people just don’t seem to want to do, but it’s also that, yes, it took Marvel too long to start looking at their diversity issues, but when they start, they produce impressive films. It may well be impossible to overestimate the significance of having a movie like Black Panther, which was critically and financially successful and primarily about black characters.
He liked playing historical figures, too; apparently, he wanted to play Jimi Hendrix. He said he’d been told that he didn’t need to keep playing historical figures and that he disagreed. I’ll admit I haven’t seen any of the biopics he did, but several of them are on my list. I’ve seen just over a quarter of his released films, and that would be a good percentage if it weren’t exclusively the movies where he played a superhero. I’ll have to fix that, and soon.
I was just explaining to my partner this morning about John Cazale and how they had to fight to get him in The Deer Hunter because of his brain cancer. One assumes that’s why Boseman hid his colon cancer. It’s so heartrending to have lost such a talented man so young, and I wonder how hard he fought to hide his disease so he would be cast in what I suspect will remain his most iconic role. I do wonder some what Marvel will do with the character, but we remain lucky to have had the performances we did.