Black Panther actor Chadwick Boseman has died. He was 43 years old.
Boseman’s family announced his death on his Twitter today. “It is with immeasurable grief that we confirm the passing of Chadwick Boseman,” the post stated. They shared he’s been battling colon cancer since 2016 and it had developed into stage IV.
“A true fighter, Chadwick preserved 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,” shared his family.
The Howard University alum will be forever known for starring as King T’Challa in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, most notably 2018’s Black Panther. (The movie, which was centered around the African superhero, would gross nearly $1.3 billion worldwide and would be nominated for best picture at the 2019 Academy Awards.) Most recently Boseman starred in 21 Bridges, which he also produced, and Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods. In 2013, he made his leading man debut in 42, where he played sports icon Jackie Robinson. The award-winning actor would go playing other great Black men on screen: James Brown in Get On Up (2014) and Thurgood Marshall in Marshall (2017).
In ESSENCE’s 2018 cover story on the film Black Panther, Boseman—who played King T’Challa in four MCU films—speaks with writer Karen Good Marable about the spirituality at the center of the film. Marable writes:
…Lupita Nyong’o, however, opts to take this idea one step further: “It’s not that I’m escaping into the world of Wakanda. It’s actually aspirational.”
She’s speaking about the glory of the continent and the richness of Wakanda, yes, but also perhaps about the fact that we are all in a sense super. Black Panther is rooted in myth and ritual, like stories of the Ebo flying to freedom. This power isn’t just found in the comic books; it potentially exists inside our DNA. “Heightened abilities come from the higher levels of spirituality, higher levels of technology,” Boseman says. “Like you can take the superpowers away, but you still gotta have a warrior spirit. The warrior has to remain.”
During Howard University’s 2018 commencement, where Boseman received an honorary doctorate, he told the graduating class of his alma mater: “Purpose is the essential element of you. It is the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history. Your very existence is wrapped up in the things you are here to fulfill.”
Read his family’s full statement about his passing below.
Boseman is survived by his wife, Taylor Simone Ledward, and his family.