Late on Friday night, Chadwick Boseman’s family confirmed in a deeply felt letter that the Black Panther actor had passed away at the age of 43 after a four-year fight with colon cancer. Messages of grief, shock, and love poured in immediately, turning Boseman’s family’s tribute into one of the most retweeted messages in history. Everyone seemed to agree: The world had lost a creative force and one of the great performers of his generation. He was more than T’Challa, but he also was T’Challa to a generation who needed a hero. His passion and thoughtfulness were at the heart of the cultural phenomenon that was Black Panther, and by all accounts, his joy beamed far beyond the screen.
“Chadwick’s passing is absolutely devastating,” Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios and chief creative officer, Marvel, said in a statement. “He was our T’Challa, our Black Panther, and our dear friend. Each time he stepped on set, he radiated charisma and joy, and each time he appeared on screen, he created something truly indelible. He embodied a lot of amazing people in his work, and nobody was better at bringing great men to life. He was as smart and kind and powerful and strong as any person he portrayed. Now he takes his place alongside them as an icon for the ages. The Marvel Studios family deeply mourns his loss, and we are grieving tonight with his family.”
Bob Iger, who oversaw The Walt Disney Company when Boseman first stepped into the role of Black Panther, also offered an emotional word on the loss of the actor. “We are all heartbroken by the tragic loss of Chadwick Boseman — an extraordinary talent, and one of the most gentle and giving souls I have ever met,” he said in a statement. “He brought enormous strength, dignity and depth to his groundbreaking role of Black Panther; shattering myths and stereotypes, becoming a long-awaited hero to millions around the world, and inspiring us all to dream bigger and demand more than the status quo. We mourn all that he was, as well as everything he was destined to become. For his friends and millions of fans, his absence from the screen is only eclipsed by his absence from our lives. All of us at Disney send our prayers and heartfelt condolences to his family.”
Over the course of the night and into Saturday, Boseman’s costars in Black Panther, as well as Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, took to social media to express their own grief and pay tribute to the late actor. (Polygon will continue to update this story as additional comments come in.)
Our hearts are broken and our thoughts are with Chadwick Boseman’s family. Your legacy will live on forever. Rest In Peace. pic.twitter.com/YQMrEJy90x— Marvel Entertainment (@Marvel) August 29, 2020
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“It was meant to be for Chadwick and me to be connected, for us to be family. But what many don’t know is our story began long before his historic turn as Black Panther. During the premiere party for Black Panther, Chadwick reminded me of something. He whispered that when I received my honorary degree from Howard University, his alma mater, he was the student assigned to escort me that day. And here we were, years later as friends and colleagues, enjoying the most glorious night ever! We’d spent weeks prepping, working, sitting next to each other every morning in makeup chairs, preparing for the day together as mother and son. I am honored that we enjoyed that full circle experience. This young man’s dedication was awe-inspiring, his smile contagious, his talent unreal. So I pay tribute to a beautiful spirit, a consummate artist, a soulful brother...”thou aren’t not dead but flown afar...”. All you possessed, Chadwick, you freely gave. Rest now, sweet prince.” #WakandaForever
Mr. Boseman leveled the playing field while fighting for his life... That’s heroism. I’ll remember the good times, the laughter, and the way he changed the game... #chadwickforever @chadwickboseman pic.twitter.com/IFfCSmLrhR— Robert Downey Jr (@RobertDowneyJr) August 29, 2020
I’m absolutely devastated. This is beyond heartbreaking.— Chris Evans (@ChrisEvans) August 29, 2020
Chadwick was special. A true original. He was a deeply committed and constantly curious artist. He had so much amazing work still left to create. I’m endlessly grateful for our friendship. Rest in power, King pic.twitter.com/oBERXlw66Z
All I have to say is the tragedies amassing this year have only been made more profound by the loss of #ChadwickBoseman. What a man, and what an immense talent. Brother, you were one of the all time greats and your greatness was only beginning. Lord love ya. Rest in power, King.— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) August 29, 2020
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Today is beyond devastating to comprehend. Just shock and pain...I was in awe of Chadwick, as an actor, in his commitment to the work and as a human. I looked up to him. The way he carried himself, how thoughtful and mindful he was, how generous...he elevated everyone around him. None of it makes sense to me. There was so much more coming from this man. It’s such a loss. Such a shame.
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Rest in Power King T’Challa. My heart is so heavy right now. Your passing has hit me hard. I will tell my sons about you forever. You were one of the classiest men I have ever met in my life. It was an honor to have shared minutes with you on screen and to have crossed paths with you during press. Though our acquaintance was light you always left a lasting impression because of your energy, poise and gentle manner. May the Universe deliver you to your promise land brother. ~ Que en paz y en poder logres descansar finalmente. Con lo poco que estuviste aquí, dejaste un legado increíble!!!
Chadwick was such an elegant man with great integrity and tremendous talent. He inspired an entire generation to stand up and be king. Honor him by emulating him-show kindness and love to others. Share your talents in ways that impact. Always strive to be a light in the darkness. pic.twitter.com/8XRpRejnf7— Russo Brothers (@Russo_Brothers) August 29, 2020
For more information on colon cancer, preventative screenings, and how to donate to Cancer research, visit Cancer.org.