Chadwick Boseman, who made a global impact bringing “Black Panther” to life in the Marvel Cinematic Universe along with playing Black icons Jackie Robinson and James Brown on the silver screen, died Friday of cancer. He was 43.
Boseman’s publicist Nicki Fioravante confirmed the news Friday to USA TODAY.
The star died at his home in the Los Angeles area with his wife and family by his side, Fioravante told the Associated Press.
Boseman was diagnosed with colon cancer four years ago, his family said in a statement, which was posted on Boseman’s Instagram Friday.
“Chadwick was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016, and battled with it these last 4 years as it progressed to stage IV,” they wrote.
”A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much. From ‘Marshall’ to ‘Da 5 Bloods,’ August Wilson’s ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’ and several more, all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy. It was the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther.
“The family thanks you for your love and prayers, and asks that you continue to respect their privacy during this difficult time.”
Boseman died on the same day that Major League Baseball was celebrating Jackie Robinson day, the icon who Boseman breathed life into onscreen.
“His transcendent performance in ‘42’ will stand the test of time and serve as a powerful vehicle to tell Jackie’s story to audiences for generations to come,” the league wrote in a tweet.
Born in Anderson, South Carolina, Boseman graduated from Howard University in 2000. He was just stepping into the prime of his career: After starting out on TV shows like “Lincoln Heights” and “Persons Unknown,” Boseman had his breakthrough playing Robinson in 2013’s “42” and then a year later inhabited the colorful wardrobe of R&B superstar Brown in “Get on Up.”
Boseman found great success playing these iconic roles – he also portrayed Thurgood Marshall as a young lawyer, before his Supreme Court Days, in 2017’s “Marshall.” But he also made the most of his smaller parts as well: In 2014, Boseman co-starred with Kevin Costner as a headstrong but good-hearted college superstar wanting to make it to the NFL to take care of his nephews in the football dramedy “Draft Day.”
It was 2016, though, that started him on the road to superstardom with a cameo as T’Challa, a young Wakandan prince (later king) and heroic warrior, in Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War.” Two years later, he headlined the blockbuster “Black Panther,” a movie that caused a movement throughout the world as Black men and women, boys and girls, took to heart its hero and the cross-armed “Wakanda Forever” salute.
“This experience is an opening for people’s consciousness. Their boundaries should be shaken and moved,” Boseman told USA TODAY in 2018. “There’s a hero here that I hope people grow to love.”
They did. Fans came out in droves, driving “Black Panther” to rake in a box office of more than $1.3 billion, becoming the fourth-biggest movie of all time. The film was also the first superhero movie ever nominated by the Academy Awards for best picture.
Boseman reprised his popular role two more times, in 2018’s “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame.”
The character was last seen standing silently dressed in a black suit at Tony Stark’s funeral in last year’s “Avengers: Endgame.”