Remembering some of Chadwick Boseman's greatest MCU moments
Each week, we break down the biggest moments from Supergirl, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Black Lightning, and Batwoman — both here and every Friday on SiriusXM's Superhero Insider. In a special edition of Superhero Insider, hosts Kyle Anderson, Chancellor Agard, and Sydney Bucksbaum remember the late actor Chadwick Boseman.
Jackie Robinson. James Brown. Thurgood Marshall. Chadwick Boseman — who died from colon cancer Friday night at the age of 43 — made a career playing ground-breaking Black historical figures on the big screen; however, his performances were never hagiographic because he zeroed in on the humanity of each person he portrayed. That ability to ground major icons is at the heart of the role for which he is most well-known: Marvel's Black Panther.
Boseman was a hit with audiences from the moment T'Challa, the super-powered king of the technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda, was introduced in Captain America: Civil War. His poignant turn as a grieving son seeking vengeance for his father's untimely death — coupled with simply how cool he looked as Black Panther — is widely regarded as the best part of the 2016 film. But that was just the beginning.
Two years later, Boseman headlined his first solo Marvel feature, Black Panther, which quickly became a cultural force to be reckoned with. Directed by Ryan Coogler, the film was a box office smash (it's the fourth highest-grossing movie of all time), a watershed moment for representation on screen, and had people everywhere chanting "Wakanda Forever." All of that was due in no small part to Boseman's commanding yet subtle turn as the titular hero.
Following news of Boseman's death, EW's Chancellor Agard and Sydney Bucksbaum, and their cohost Kyle Anderson, recorded a special edition of Superhero Insider remembering the late actor. Below, Agard and Bucksbaum each share their favorite moment from Boseman's run in the MCU.
T'Challa vs. M'baku in Black Panther
T’Challa was Boseman’s role, through and through. In Captain America: Civil War, he dazzled onscreen, even next to the Hollywood heavyweights trading explosive blows next to him. But it was the moment in his solo film, Black Panther, where he fought M’Baku (Winston Duke) in ritual combat for the throne of Wakanda, that I’ll never forget. In every scene of T'Challa's leading up to this, he was already the Black Panther warrior. He had superhuman strength, agility, invulnerability. He was a superhero (and we didn’t need an origin story to tell us that). But in watching his superpowers get stripped away so he could fight as a normal human, audiences all over the world could truly see what made him remarkable – both the T’Challa the character and Boseman the actor. Even with the odds stacked against him, fighting someone twice his size, and with injuries that would have felled a man with twice his strength and determination, the film's hero never gave up the fight (and Boseman, clad only in thin fabric bottoms, made you believe it was possible without being able to hide behind a CGI suit or fancy Hollywood magic editing). He bested M’Baku and still managed to show restraint and mercy, granting his opponent dignity in defeat. This scene showed why T’Challa was the rightful, deserving King of Wakanda and Black Panther … and why Boseman was the superhero we needed both on and off screen. —Sydney Bucksbaum
Shuri roasting T'Challa in Black Panther
When I think of Boseman's time in the MCU, my doesn't immediately jump to the big action beats that prove just how badass Black Panther is, or the dramatic moments in which T'Challa grapples will the full weight of his position. Instead, I think about this comedic scene from Black Panther in which T'Challa's genius sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) endlessly teases him as she shows off the new Black Panther technology she's developed. Boseman never stops projecting power throughout the exchange, but there's also something very light and natural about his performance. It feels like he's genuinely reacting to what Wright's giving him instead of intentionally trying to be funny. Not only that, but he seems more than comfortable with Wright having the upper-hand during the entire scene. Boseman was never a showy actor and this is just one moment that captures that. –Chancellor Agard.
Listen to Superhero Insider
Listen to a snippet from the special Chadwick Boseman-focused edition of Superhero Insider above. The full show is available on Sirius XM on demand.