Chadwick Boseman, star of the ground-breaking superhero movie Black Panther, has died after a private four-year battle with colon cancer, his publicist told AFP Friday.
Boseman, 43, never publicly discussed his condition and continued to work on major Hollywood films during and between “countless” operations and chemotherapy, his family said in a statement.
“It was the honour of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther,” they said.
“A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all,” the statement added.
Boseman became the first black superhero to get his own standalone film in the record-breaking Marvel franchise with 2018’s Black Panther.
The movie, set in the fictional African kingdom of Wakanda, was adored by critics and audiences, becoming the first comic book film to be nominated for best picture at the Oscarsand grossing over $1 billion worldwide.
Earlier in his career, Boseman played black icons Jackie Robinson in 42 — today, ironically, was Jackie Robinson Day in the US — and James Brown in “Get on Up.”
The news of Boseman’s death sent shockwaves through Hollywood and around the world.
“The true power of @chadwickboseman was bigger than anything we saw on screen,” wrote Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
“From the Black Panther to Jackie Robinson, he inspired generations and showed them they can be anything they want — even super heroes.”
Boseman’s Marvel co-star Mark Ruffalo tweeted: “Brother, you were one of the all time greats and your greatness was only beginning. Lord love ya. Rest in power, King.”
Leading US civil rights organisation the NAACP praised Boseman for “showing us how to conquer adversity with grace” and “to walk as a King, without losing the common touch.”
“#RestInPower #BlackPantherForever,” its tweet concluded.