We are coming to the end of the year, and this has been quite an eventful year. However, I do not think any singular moment of this year shocked me or made such an impact as when I woke up one day to the news that Chadwick Boseman had passed away. He was an incredible person first and foremost, but he was also a hard worker and gave us so many iconic performances within his short time.
To celebrate the life that he lived, alongside the release of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom on the 18th of December on Netflix, I decided that this month’s edition of The Ultimate Choice would be dedicated to him. Here is what me and my fellow film fans had to say about his work.
Chosen by me
When Kevin Feige first announced that Chadwick Boseman would be filling in the role of T’Challa in Captain America: Civil War, there was a lot of pressure put on him to step up and match the levels of Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr., and yet in his first steps on stage, his smile was infectious. He was immediately charismatic, engaging with the fans, and ready to fill in these shoes. What he did in Civil War would not prepare fans for what he could do in a solo film.
It is no wonder why Black Panther has become one of the most important films in the MCU for many fans. In a culture and franchise that felt bogged down with white males taking over the narrative, Chadwick Boseman was the first step for true representation, something that has shifted the perspective of the MCU over the past three years.
It is not just about what Chadwick Boseman alongside director Ryan Cooger did for black representation, from the traditional clothing, landscapes, and even the voice work from Boseman. It is so much more than that. It is an incredible lead performance that became one of the favourite characters of the MCU. The impact of the Black Panther character transitioned from his solo gig to being one of the more vital pieces in Infinity War and Endgame, with his dusting and portal sequences gaining some of the biggest responses in any screening of the movie. It is hard to deny the impact of Chadwick Boseman with the comic-book genre.
Also chosen by Sam Hurley: Twitter | Movie Reviews in 20Qs Podcast
For anyone that’s familiar with my podcast, this choice really comes as no shock. I’ve often talked about my affinity for the MCU, which was borne off of a deep love for Marvel comics growing up. And while I enjoyed Boseman’s performances in underappreciated films like 42, Get On Up, and Message from the King, his performance in Black Panther is the one that will last with me.
To some, my love for all things Marvel may be seen as a bias. To me, it’s not. If anything, it was a hindrance, because for a long time I didn’t see T’Challa/Black Panther as being cinematic. It wasn’t for a lack of content, but instead the opposite. I felt like there were way too many facets of the character, and capturing them would be near impossible.
In the comics, he’s the head of a highly advanced African nation, yet he’s firmly planted in tradition. He has Shakespearean levels of domestic and international threats to his kingdom, yet he also has complex relationships with those closest to him. He’s often desperately trying to find solutions to his personal problems in a world that offers none while maintaining what is right for his people. As a character, and like so many other comic book characters before him, it was very easy to do him wrong.
When he arrived on the scene in Civil War, all of my doubts were cast aside. Boseman immediately displayed a methodical and stoic exterior that was a perfect disparate cover for his underlying intensity. If anything, that is the most important part of getting the character right. In the few scenes he was in, he managed to competently juggling a vulnerable and sympathetic man while being a bad-ass king.
When Black Panther came out, Boseman showed that it was no fluke. He got to bounce this off of an incredible performance from Michael B Jordan, who characterised exactly what T’Challa would be if he had gone in a different path. But Boseman really drew us as an audience into the movie. We felt his heartache at the burdens put on him, we felt pride when he’d refuse to back down, and we revelled in the sheer comedic joy that existed between him and Shuri (Letitia Wright).
It might be the film that everyone immediately thinks of when they think of him. But given how much pressure there was on him to get this right, and prove that black superheroes deserve their own movie too, he succeeded in so many ways. It’s an impressive legacy to leave behind.
Da 5 Bloods
Chosen by Chay Strudwick: Twitter | Letterboxd
Chadwick Boseman was a man with huge talent, possessing the charisma and physique to become our Black Panther, or the heart and soul to become Jackie Robinson. He was a phenomenal actor who had so much to give, evidenced by his penultimate performance in Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods.
Chadwick plays the role of Stormin’ Norman; a US trooper fighting with his friends in the vietnam war. His performance is one of great emotion which acts as the catalyst for the story and the film as a whole. In each short flashback, Chadwick’s electrifying performance comes into the spotlight, demonstrating how great Stormin’ Norman was. He brings an energy that gives you great belief in his feats and his skills. He makes you believe in this legend. Perhaps another reason why he stands out is due to Spike Lee’s choice to use the aged actors in the flashback sequences. Boseman is noticeably 20 years younger than the rest of his crew (despite playing characters of the same age) and yet you never question this. His performance immediately makes you believe that he is the most experienced, skilled and toughest soldier. This is Boseman at his best, bringing all his performances together to give us this character. It elevates the film on every level, bringing nuance to each conversation in the current day about his character. You really feel emotional during each of these scenes, due to the relationship built with the other characters. This really connected with me as I wished they could have just one more conversation with Norman. I was consistently eager to get to the flashbacks to see that relationship develop even further.
His final scene in the film is the best scene and definitely my favourite scene in Boseman’s career. The subtle emotion displayed from his character and Delroy Lindo’s as we watch the war come to an end, and ultimately Norman’s life is unbelievable. Norman accepts his death, he knew it would be his eventual end, and yet he accepts it with such courage and peace. Boseman is at his best here, showing delicate intricacy in the acceptance of his death, and bringing a true conclusion to the war for those involved.
His performance is one that will live with me and fans alike for years to come.
Get On Up
Chosen by Jerome Muscarella: Twitter | Jerome Reviews Blog
Celebrity deaths can be extremely saddening and is be a time where everyone comes together and talks about their favorite pieces of work the said celebrity has made or done. Chadwick Boseman is one of the saddest celebrity deaths in recent memory, it was unexpected and truly heartbreaking given what happened. The strength he showed even when he was really sick was absolutely inspiring and really shows how determined and dedicated he was. He has played many incredible roles such as Black Panther, Jackie Robinson, and a few others. My favorite role of Boseman I’m going to talk about is James Brown from Get On Up.
Get On Up I truly feel shows Boseman’s talent at the highest level, like in many other movies he captures who he’s playing. He captures James Brown in every single way possible, from the dancing to the singing voice it’s all there. Chadwick Boseman sings James Brown’s iconic songs “I Feel Good” and “Get On Up” just like Brown, at one point it’s almost scary to see how similar the two sound alike. This is truly something you do not see often when several actors and actresses attempt to sound like singers. But here you 100% believe that Boseman is playing James Brown it’s like you are back in time seeing James Brown perform in concert.
Chadwick Boseman also adds his own bit to James Brown, which is sort of a risk given how iconic James Brown is. But it pays off Boseman adds this sort of energy that brings some very strong star power. I find it really inspiring Boseman plays one of the most iconic singers of all time, back in 2014 Boseman’s career was gaining traction especially after 42 where he played one of the biggest Baseball players of all time. If you have not seen Get On Up I highly recommend doing so, as I’ve already said before Boseman knocks it out of the park. He showed how dedicated he was to becoming James Brown and the end result is phenomenal!