The world was left reeling from the unexpected death of Chadwick Boseman, who fell victim
to colon cancer at the age of 43. It was a battle he fought privately while filming some
of his biggest movies, from MCU staples, notable biopics to Spike Lee joints, during his fight
After appearing in several other biopics including 2013's 42 and 2014's Get on Up, where he played
Jackie Robinson and James Brown, respectively Boseman continued this tradition by playing
pioneering Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in 2017's Marshall.
Directed by Reginald Hudlin, the film focuses specifically on one of the earliest and most
important cases of Marshall's career, State of Connecticut vs. Joseph Spell.
"I only represent innocent people. People accused because of their race. That's my mission."
"I never touched that woman."
Connecticut vs. Spell concerned a Black man who was falsely accused of sexually assaulting
a wealthy white woman. After that particular case, in which Marshall passionately fought
to prove Spell's innocence, he went on to become the first Black justice on the Supreme
Court of the United States.
Marshall performed well with critics, who frequently singled out Boseman's central performance;
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone said that the film succeeded based on "Boseman's dramatic
By this point, Boseman had already proved he was king of the biopic, despite his difficult,
The first standalone film for the MCU that featured a Black superhero as its protagonist
had a lot to prove, and thanks to Boseman and director Ryan Coogler, 2018's Black Panther
still managed to surpass even the highest of expectations.
A critical smash that also crushed the box office, and even won multiple Academy Awards,
Black Panther is the first solo film to star Boseman's T'Challa, the young king of Wakanda
who also masquerades as the nation's premier superhero.
Imbued by the power of the mythical Black Panther and aided by the incredible technological
prowess of Wakanda, which the country keeps secret from the rest of the world, T'Challa
seems unstoppable ... until his cousin, Erik "Killmonger" Stevens, who feels utterly wronged
by Wakanda, returns to challenge T'Challa for the throne.
Superhero movies require plenty of suspension of disbelief, and as a result, sometimes they
can feel fake or forced. But Black Panther succeeds largely thanks to Coogler's careful,
loving direction and Boseman's grounding central performance.
Most importantly, Boseman takes this legendary, superhuman figure and makes him feel like
a real person, infusing him with a lightness and serious intensity all at the same time.
"Delete that footage!"
Black Panther the character appeared in plenty of MCU properties, but Black Panther the movie
turned out to be one of the best and most culturally important standalone outings in
the cinematic universe's history.
After the events of Black Panther, T'Challa makes the decision to open up about Wakanda's
true power, inviting the world to see their technological advances. However, he doesn't
expect that one of the biggest battles for humanity will be fought on their land.
In 2018's Avengers: Infinity War, the climactic final battle against Thanos takes place in
Wakanda, but the heroes ultimately lose, leading Thanos to snap his fingers and eradicate half
of all living creatures with the help of his Infinity Stone-packed Gauntlet. As a result,
T'Challa finds himself randomly chosen as one of the fallen, leaving Wakanda bereft.
Thankfully, in 2019's Endgame, the remaining heroes figure out a way to bring back their
fallen friends, and T'Challa is among the first to return to the world of the living.
Not only does Boseman get an emotional moment before battle in Infinity War as he leads
Wakanda into the fray, proving his mettle as their king, but he also gets the first
entrance back into the real world, appropriate for his stature as an audience favorite. Infinity
War and Endgame are both huge ensemble films, but thanks to Boseman, T'Challa stands out
from the pack.
Boseman took a brief breather from the MCU with 21 Bridges, in which he plays an NYPD
detective alongside stars like Sienna Miller, J.K. Simmons, and Taylor Kitsch.
After two criminals kill police officers during a heist, Detective Andre Davis, played by
Boseman, is tasked with stopping the men as quickly as possible. To try and prevent them
from escaping, he shuts down all 21 bridges connected to Manhattan to trap the duo on
the island, hunting them throughout the night.
"How you wanna do this?"
"Close the island."
It's no surprise that leading roles like 21 Bridges came along in the wake of Boseman's
work in the MCU, and naturally he was praised for his central performance, with critics
calling him a more-than-capable leading man who elevates the story with his cool charisma.
21 Bridges may have been a standard cop drama at face value, but clearly, Boseman proved
to be just the right actor to make it into something special.
The story of a group of elderly Vietnam veterans who return to the empty battlefield to find
treasure as well as the squad leader they buried there Da 5 Bloods plays with time,
especially as it pertains to Boseman's character, "Stormin'" Norman Earl Holloway.
In fact, Norman is the lost squad member the titular "5 Bloods" are searching for. Along
the way, they grapple with their past, present, and future as they try to do right by their
Boseman's role is small yet pivotal in Da 5 Bloods, and ultimately, nobody could explain
why he was chosen for this vital role better than Lee himself. As Lee told writer David
Sims in The Atlantic ahead of the film's 2020 release,
"Here's the thing for me. This character is heroic; he's a superhero. Who do we cast?
We cast Jackie Robinson, James Brown, Thurgood Marshall, and we cast T'Challa. Chad is a
superhero! That character is Christlike! Notice the way [the cinematographer Newton Thomas
Sigel shot him. There's light from heaven coming down from above on him."
Boseman may be gone, but one of his films has yet to be released. Based on a play by
the same name written by famed Black playwright August Wilson who penned classics like Fences
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom will mark Boseman's final film role, casting him opposite Academy
Award winner Viola Davis.
The story of one day in the studio with famed recording artist Ma Rainey, played by Davis,
and her willful trumpeter Levee, played by Boseman. Ma Rainey's Black Bottom will certainly
make waves when it hits Netflix, though the release date has been pushed back out of respect