“The legends and heroes we showed us that we are … will live forever,” he wrote. “But what hurts the most is that I now understand how legendary and heroic you are.”
In his heart “Black Panther” was the story of two men from two different worlds, but the same. So much of the heart and success of the superhero film, that it exceeded the genre and shattered expectations, ended up in the work of its two protagonists.
Chadwick Boseman inspired a generation as King Wakandan T’Challa while Michael B. Jordan added so much complexity to Erik Killmonger, a character that could easily go down in caricature and stereotype supervillain.
It is a testament to the strength of character of both men, as well as their talent as actors. And it’s a link they shared for years before ever sharing the screen in the 2018 Marvel blockbuster.
It is the shared experience, connection and awareness of the importance of the roles they take on and what they represent on screen as black actors who really assured that they made a difference. This common goal also forged a strong bond between them.
Calling his “big brother” in his first words after Boseman’s shocking and tragic death last week after a four-year private battle with colon cancer – meaning he was fighting that battle even when both men they were filming their epic superhero battles – Jordan had a simple echo in all his words.
“I wish we had more time.”
He shared the story of their first relationship when Jordan replaced Boseman in “All My Children” at the age of 16. The reason the role became available is because even then Boseman defended the right thing, saying TheWrap in a 2019 interview she left him because he did not like the character of teenage gangs playing in negative racial stereotypes.
“From almost the beginning of my career, starting with ‘All My Kids’ when I was 16, you paved the way for me,” Jordan wrote. “You have shown me how to be better, to honor the purpose and to create a legacy. And whether you have known it or not … I have attended, I am learning and I am constantly motivated by your greatness.”
He went on to stress how strong it was that Boseman continued to challenge stereotypes even as he faced the biggest challenge of his life. “Everything you have given to the world … the legends and heroes you have shown us that we are … we will live forever,” he continued. “But what hurts the most is that I now understand how legendary and heroic you are.”
It’s not just that Boseman has been fighting a secret battle against cancer all these years. It is that he never lost who he was, the power of his platform and the good he could do with it.
“You were interested in your family, your friends, your art, your spirit. You cared for the children, the community, our culture and humanity. “You are my big brother, but I never have a chance to tell you, or really give you your flowers when you are here.”
He reminded them of their friendship, their professional relationship and all these little things like “every moment, every conversation, every laugh, every disagreement, every hug”. He vowed to devote the rest of his days to living as Boseman did, “with grace, courage and without sorrow.”
And all the while, this heartbreak avoids, “I wish we had more time.”
See more tributes from the “Black Panther” cast below.