On the release date of Chadwick Boseman’s final film, ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,’ we’re looking back at all the films he made while battling cancer for the last four years of his life.
Chadwick Boseman didn’t slow down while battling colon cancer from 2016 until his death on Aug. 28, 2020. The actor was diagnosed with the diseases in stage three in 2016, but continued to work amidst his surgeries and chemotherapy treatments. Throughout that time, he filmed seven incredible films, including Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, which was released on Netflix on Dec. 18. Here are all the movies he made while battling cancer:
Black Panther (2018)
Chadwick will forever be remembered for his trailblazing role as King T’Challa — a.k.a. the Black Panther — and the first-ever Black superhero. Set in the fictional African country of Wakanda, he leads his people in a fight to protect their homeland. “You don’t wanna do films with black casts and directors just for the sake of doing it. Critical acclaim and commercial success is the goal… Everybody’s minds are opening up, people are more conscious than they used to be,” he said of the movie to The Guardian back in 2018.
Following 2013’s 42 where Chadwick played baseball legend Jackie Robinson, he once again delivered in the role of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. The film follows Thurgood — who passed away in 1993 — as a young lawyer one of the biggest cases of his career. Chadwick starred alongside Sterling K. Brown, Kate Hudson and Josh Gad in the movie in 2017.
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Chadwick reprised his role as the Black Panther in the first installment of the Avengers finale. Both Avengers: Infinity War and Black Panther were shot simultaneously, and released only two months apart. Despite starring in the film, Chadwick had to wait just like the fans to see the completed project. “Finally got to see #InfinityWar! Want to talk about it, but can’t until after you all see it this weekend…,” he posted on his Instagram account in 2018.
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
King T’Challa/The Black Panther once again joined the Avengers to fight against villain Thanos — played by Josh Brolin — and save the world in Avengers: Endgame. Earning a worldwide total of $2.8 billion, the film became the highest grossing movie of all-time. “Couldn’t share much about this one for a long time, glad to give you some BTS shots now. #AvengersEndgame,” he teased on Instagram in 2019 prior to the at-home digital release.
Da 5 Bloods (2020)
Da 5 Bloods follows four Black war veterans — played by Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis and Isiah Whitlock Jr. — as they search for their fallen Squad Leader, played by Chadwick. Directed by Oscar winner Spike Lee, the Netflix film was released in June amidst the Black Lives Matter movement. “I cannot take any credit for this. The film was shot when it was shot; it was ready to come out when it was ready to come out. And then the world changed for everybody,” Spike said to Variety of the timing. “When something is repeated all the time it becomes a cliché … but that doesn’t mean it’s not the truth. And the truth I’m talking about is timing is everything. This film’s coming out at the right time for the world we live in.”
21 Bridges (2019)
Chadwick played NYPD detective Andre Davis as he chases two cop killers in this action-thriller, eventually stumbling up and uncovering a conspiracy. “The only way out is through him. Here’s an exclusive first look at the new poster for @21BridgesMovie – coming soon to theaters. #21Bridges,” Chadwick teased on Instagram in 2019, ahead of the movie’s release. The movie also stars Sienna Miller, Keith David, and J. K. Simmons.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020)
Chadwick’s final film was released on Netlix on Dec. 18, 2020. Set in 1927 Chicago, Chadwick plays the role of trumpet player Levee against Viola Davis‘ Ma Rainey. The film is based on the 1982 play by August Wilson, inspired by the late “Mother of Blues” Ma Rainey herself. Co-star Viola tweeted after his death, “Chadwick…no words to express my devastation of losing you. Your talent, your spirit, your heart, your authenticity…It was an honor working beside you, getting to know you….Rest well prince…May flights of angels sing thee to thy heavenly rest. I love you!”