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Happy Birthday Chadwick Boseman: Late actor’s films from Black Panther to Message from the King

The late star became an indelible part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with his role as the king of Wakanda,T'Challa or Black Panther, becoming the first African American actor to play the lead in an MCU film.

  • Shilpa S

  • OTTplay

Last Updated: 04.40 AM, Nov 29, 2021


Most audiences knew Chadwick Boseman as the man who immortalized the Marvel character of Black Panther. Many agreed that Boseman was born to play the role of Wakanda’s king, T'Challa, bringing in an air of sophistication and majesty to the character that was unprecedented in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

But years before he was conferred the crown of Black Panther, Boseman had made his mark as one of the finest talents to come out of Hollywood with his layered and powerful performances in films such as 42 and Get on Up. He had started his stellar acting career on stage, being part of numerous theatre productions where he excelled as both actor and playwright.

His silver screen debut came in the form of television shows, the first being Third Watch. Although his film debut came in 2008’s The Express: The Ernie Davis Story, it wasn't until his role in 42 that he became established as a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood. From then on, the star did not look back.

At the height of his career, the star was plagued by terminal illness the news of which he kept under wraps while keeping on being a part of numerous acclaimed films until his death on August 28, 2020.

To remember the legacy of the much beloved actor on his birth anniversary, here is a list of films where he gave some memorable performances.

Regarded as Boseman's breakthrough film, 42 is a biographical drama tracing the life of American baseball player Jackie Robinson. Robinson made history as the first black person to be signed to the prestigious professional sports league, Major League Baseball. Boseman’s portrayal of the sports legend received widespread adulation, with even the widow of Robinson claiming that it was like watching her husband on screen. The actor had put in months of work into the role, working with professions so that he could authentically capture the late baseball player’s technique.
Yet another film where Boseman played a real life figure on screen, Marshall is the story of American lawyer and Judge Thurgood Marshall, who became the first African American to be elected as a Supreme Court Justice. The film follows an important case in Marshall’s legal career, most of which involved representing people of colour who were wrongly accused. Boseman was widely praised for his role as the titular character, the months of work he put in to authentically capture Marshall’s persona reflecting in his layered portrayal.
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
The last film in Boseman’s career, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom was released after the star’s passing and dedicated to his memory. The biographical musical film is based on the play of the same name by August Wilson written in 1982. The film tells the story of popular American blues artist Ma Rainey, and is centered around a problematic recording session in the singer’s career. Boseman plays the role of Levee Green, the trumpet player of a Jazz band who are to join Rainey in her session. His powerful performance earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.
Black Panther
Black Panther is definitely the role that etched Boseman’s name as an enduring part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Not only did the film make history as the first film in the MCU to be led by a black actor, it also stands out for how it weaved in elements of African American culture into its story in a sensitive way. The 2018 film saw Boseman reprise his role as the eponymous superhero after Captain America: Civil War. His impeccable portrayal of the Wakandan king was lauded and was so iconic that even after his death, Marvel refused to recast the character, despite the character’s popularity.
Message from the King
This 2017 thriller film tells the tale of a South African man who makes his way to Los Angeles after a cryptic message from his sister leaves him worried. Once there he finds his sister missing and in his search for answers makes some devastating discoveries. Boseman portrays Jacob King, a strange man from Cape Town who goes on a grueling quest in search for his sister, harboring secrets of his own. Although the film received mixed reviews, Boseman’s performance was commended, which some critics regarded as the saving grace of the film.

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