On August 28, 2020, the world lost a cultural icon. The death of actor Chadwick Boseman was announced on social media after his silent, 4-year battle with cancer. He played several significant roles in this time period — including athlete Jackie Robinson, performer James Brown, and lawyer Thurgood Marshall. He was especially known as “King T’Challa” within the Marvel Universe.
His presence in Black Panther essentially bridged a historical gap between those within the African diaspora. Through the characters’ darker shades of skin, natural hairstyles, and colorful attire — this was the first time the audience could see themselves represented in an action movie like such. The cultural struggle of wanting to stay connected to one’s roots, but not having a true sense of identity, is emphasized in the film.
During Black Panther’s creation, Boseman lobbied for his character to have a more traditional African accent opposed to one that exists from a colonial perspective. To him, it was crucial that he used his platform as a way to advocate for the visibility of those that looked like himself. He therefore worked with a dialogue coach to improve his language skills, but actors such as Lupita Nyong’o used accents from their countries of origin.
Through his groundbreaking portrayals, Chadwick Boseman opened the doors for a more diverse representation in Hollywood. He was more than just fictional character that thrived off outer-worldly technological advancements. He was a real-life superhero whose legacy will continue to leave a cultural impact.
Source Author: Karen Attiah
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