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The Extraordinary Work of Chadwick Boseman
August 30, 2020  | By Mike Hughes
 

The flow of tributes to the late Chadwick Boseman now includes an unprecedented one: At 8 p.m. ET today (Sunday, Aug. 30), ABC will show his Black Panther movie commercial-free. That will be followed by a special – Chadwick Boseman -- Tribute For a King – from 10:20 to 11 p.m. ET.

Boseman played the king of a fictional African land in Black Panther, but he also played real-life heroes – Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall – and music superstar James Brown.

He had a six-year stretch of magnificent movie roles. Now we learn that for four of those years, he was fighting colon cancer.

He died at the age of 43 on Friday, Aug. 28, which happened to be Jackie Robinson Day for Major League Baseball. In the days ahead, viewers can catch his work on TV and via streaming.

Boseman, who wrote and directed his first play as a high school senior in South Carolina, had intended to direct theater. He majored in directing at Howard University, where his mentor (Phylicia Rashad) and her friends (including Denzel Washington) helped him do a summer program at Oxford.

But his career soared as an actor, starting on TV with lots of guest roles and two ongoing ones. In a season of Lincoln Heights, he was an Iraq veteran, the son the main character hadn't known.

In Persons Unknown, he was a Marine sergeant, one of several strangers confined to a mysterious hotel.

Then came two sports films, Draft Day and 42, and fame. Here's a round-up of his movies, starting with the ones coming soonest to TV:

Get On Up (2014) catches the rich variety of James Brown's life, from jailed teenager to music superstar, from good guy to bad friend. For Boseman, who tended toward subtle characters, it was a rare chance to go big, complete with dancing and, occasionally, singing.

SEE IT: 9:50 a.m. ET Sunday (Aug. 30), HBO; also, 10:35 a.m. ET Sept. 9, HBO2.

Black Panther (2018) helped break the too-long tradition that big-budget adventures needed white male stars. That started to crumble a year earlier, when Wonder Woman made $403 million domestically (U.S. and Canada) and $822 million worldwide. It shattered when Black Panther made $700 million domestically and $1.35 billion worldwide. That put it No. 2 for the season, trailing only Avengers: Infinity War in which Boseman also starred.

SEE IT: Commercial-free at at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. Also, TBS quickly added showings at 9 p.m. ET, August 29, and 8 p.m. ET, August 30; previously scheduled for 7 p.m. ET and 10 p.m. ET Sept. 6.

Draft Day (2014) arms Kevin Costner with the No. 1 pick in the pro-football draft. Will he take a cocky quarterback, as expected, or an earnest linebacker (Boseman)? Parts of the story – including Costner's first decision – are wildly improbable, but it's a well-acted and interesting film.

SEE IT: 8 p.m. ET Sept. 7, Fox.

Streaming: Boseman made two films for Netflix. Spike Lee's Da 5 Bloods is available now; he plays one of the soldiers in Vietnam, past and present. Based on the August Wilson play, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom finished filming a year ago and is expected this year. Also, Disney+ is the place to look for Boseman's other Marvel films – Captain America: Civil War (2016), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), and Avengers: Endgame (2019).

Also: Keep an eye out for Marshall (2017) – in some ways, the greatest hero of all. Long before Thurgood Marshall won historic cases (including the one that helped end school segregation), and long before he became the first Black Supreme Court justice, he was an NAACP lawyer, taking on difficult cases. In this one, he's in Connecticut, defending a chauffeur accused of raping his employer. Boseman gives a subtle, perfect performance in a deeply involving film.

Enjoy the legacy left by Chadwick Boseman – such an immense talent who gave so much during, sadly, such a short career.

 
 
 
 
 
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