After months of speculation, Marvel finally made it official Tuesday in the enormous, suspense filled-reveal of its upcoming projects: Chadwick Boseman will play Black Panther.
In doing so, Boseman will be the first black superhero starring in his own Marvel film. In fact, he’ll be in five. With that in mind, we thought it was the perfect time to reveal a little more about the man whose going to be playing T’Challa, king of the fictional African Nation of Wakanda.
— Ryan Penagos (@AgentM) October 28, 2014
“I actually started out wanting to direct, wanting to write,” Boseman told New York’s Power 105.1. “I really only started acting because I wanted to know what the actors were doing, how to communicate with the actors. And then I realized I’m supposed to do all of it. I studied. I studied at Howard. I studied at Oxford.” Just last month, Boseman successfully pitched Universal an untitled thriller similar to “The Fugitive” with his writing partner, Logan Coles. Boseman was attached to star as well.
His play, “Deep Azure,” earned high praise from the Chicago Tribune: “Boseman offers a creative, slick and arresting employment of theatrical language and imagery that will remind Chicago theater-goers of the work of the remarkable Victory Gardens Theater playwright Lonnie Carter, who writes in a similar style.” “Deep Azure” was loosely based on the story of Prince Jones, a Howard University student who was killed by a Prince George’s County police officer in 2000, the same year Boseman graduated from Howard.
Boseman is loath to be typecast. He’s played Jackie Robinson and James Brown, and he figures that’s it for black historical icons. Any more and he’ll become the go-to actor for biopics. “I don’t want to do another one,” he said while promoting “Get on Up,” which was the same thing he said after “42.” Boseman also revealed he auditioned for a Jimi Hendrix biopic — not “All is By My Side,” which stars Andre 3000 of Outkast, but a different one — and lost the role.
So far, Boseman has been lucky enough to get to define himself. He’s not “The Next Denzel” or “The Next Sidney Poitier.” He’s Chadwick Boseman. However, Boseman told “The View” Robinson’s widow, Rachel Robinson, informed him he beat both men for the part just because of how long it took to get the film made. When Rachel Robinson initially wanted to make the film, Poitier was age-appropriate and her top choice. When it became clear that wasn’t going to happen, she set her sights on Washington. And when that didn’t happen, and Washington aged out of the part, it finally fell to him. Not only has he filled enormous shoes, he’s done it with aplomb. The Hollywood Reporter is referring to him as “Oscar Contender and New Marvel Superhero.”
Must be nice.
Recently “Cosby Show” actress Raven Symoné invited the overwhelming wrath of Internet Blacks when she told Oprah Winfrey in an interview she didn’t want to be labeled African American, she didn’t know where her ancestors came from in Africa and that she thought of herself as “colorless.”
This is not a problem Boseman is likely to encounter. Boseman grew up in Anderson, S.C., but beyond that, he recently revealed in a HuffPost Live conversation with a fan his ancestors were Limba people from Sierra Leone. He took an African ancestry DNA test for the Continuum Project. “I want to know more about myself and to educate my family about where they come from,” Boseman said.
When Boseman was offered the role of Jackie Robinson in “42,” it was the biggest of his career. As such, he really didn’t want to screw it up. Boseman’s experience with baseball didn’t go beyond Little League, so he spent five months in “spring training” for the movie. Of course, modern baseball is different than it was in 1947. Today’s athletes are bigger, faster and stronger, and they operate with the benefit of specialized workouts and training plans. So Boseman’s training was geared toward making him look great at playing 1947 baseball in general and Robinson in particular. People involved with “42” would tape Boseman’s practices and edit them to display on a split screen with footage of Robinson. That’s how he was able to copy Robinson’s batting stance.