Fans Remember Chadwick Boseman as a Real-Life Superhero

"Black Panther may be a work of fiction, but his heroism is not."

Last night, everyone's hearts collectively broke upon learning the news of Chadwick Boseman's untimely passing. The actor, 43, died following a four-year battle with colon cancer, and almost immediately, tributes began pouring in from his fans and friends alike, mourning him as an actual superhero.

Throughout his decades-long career, Boseman portrayed prominent Black leaders on-screen, from Jackie Robinson to Thurgood Marshall. But perhaps his most powerful role was as T'Challa — the protector of the fictional African nation of Wakanda — in the film Black Panther, in which his legacy as a champion for minorities will always be remembered.

Chadwick Boseman

"Your work changed the world. Your powerful purpose and impact will last lifetimes," wrote actress Bryce Dallas Howard on Twitter alongside images of Boseman as Black Panther. "There are unborn generations who will discover and experience your heart and genius, as we all did, and they too will be left transformed by you. The world is gutted by your loss."

Former vice president and the Democratic nominee for the 2020 election, Joe Biden, echoed a similar sentiment, writing: "The true power of @ChadwickBoseman was bigger than anything we saw on screen. From the Black Panther to Jackie Robinson, he inspired generations and showed them they can be anything they want — even super heroes."

Others thanked the late legend for "what you did for our kids" with his representation as the first Black superhero.

Meanwhile, some fans found comfort in knowing he's now with the ancestors. "The ancestors will be happy to receive The Black Panther," wrote one user, while another added: "Rest well with the ancestors, King. You will forever be missed. You told our stories and made us proud to be Black."

Back in 2018, Boseman spoke about the significance of playing Black Panther during an interview with USA Today. "I hesitate to say this is bigger — those are real historical figures and moments," says Boseman, referring to his former roles as James Brown in Get On Up and Jackie Robinson in 42. "But what this is, it’s a cultural moment that is happening right now. We’re not remembering breaking the color barrier or how funk was created. We’re living this."

He continued, "This experience is an opening for people’s consciousness. Their boundaries should be shaken and moved. There’s a hero here that I hope people grow to love." Indeed, he was loved, and will forever be missed.

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