On August 28, 2020, Chadwick Boseman passed away at the age of 43 due to complications from colon cancer. Because the actor had kept his condition a secret to all but a select few, his death came as a shock to not just the public, but many within his professional sphere. This included his Black Panther co-star Lupita Nyong’o, and three years after his passing, the actress has penned a heartwarming tribute to her late colleague/friend.
Taking to her Instagram page, the 12 Years a Slave actress started off recalling how learning about Boseman’s death left her was confusion “so profound that it took months to trust the feeling of joy again.” She then provided background on the picture she shared of the man who played the T’Challa to her Nakia, saying:
This is a photo I took on film at the airport as we arrived in South Korea in 2018. We had just learned to do the baby heart with our fingers. Here Chadwick was adding his suave flare 😊. We spent a glorious 72 hours there, and the memory fills me with so much joy.
Following her first two turns as Maz Kanata in the Star Wars movies The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, Nyong’o lent her talents to 2018’s Black Panther as Nakia, a Wakandan spy who shared a romantic past with T’Challa. With Boseman having debuted as the feline-themed superhero two years earlier in Captain America: Civil War, the 18th MCU movie put T’Challa front and center ahead of Avengers: Infinity War, and along with Boseman and Nyong’o sharing quite a bit of screen time in Black Panther, they also were around each other a lot during the promotional circuit. The way the former presented his “suave flare” while they were in South Korea is one of the many treasured memories the latter has of him.
This isn’t the first time Lupita Nyong’o has written a tribute for Chadwick Boseman, as she shared on the one-year anniversary of his death that his memory “remains this alive in me.” As for this year’s tribute, the actress also known for movies like Queen of Katwe and Us, concluded her post with these words:
Death is hard to understand, maybe even harder to accept. But the love generated from the life he lived will fuel every anniversary marking his absence. Chadwick may no longer be in our photos, but he will always be in our hearts.
After Boseman died, Marvel Studios decided not to recast T’Challa for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, with the character instead dying offscreen of a terminal illness. Nyong’o reprised Nakia alongside familiar faces like Letita Wright, Danai Gurira and Winston Duke, with the sequel seeing Wright’s Shuri inheriting the Black Panther mantle during a conflict with Tenoch Huerta’s Namor. Although Nyong’o acknowledged in April 2021 that it would be “hard” to continue without Boseman, she said a few weeks ahead of Wakanda Forever’s release that she felt not recasting T’Challa was the right choice, and she had neither the “presence of mind,” nor the “objectivity to argue” with those who felt otherwise.
All of Chadwick Boseman and Lupita Nyong’o’s MCU appearances can be streamed with a Disney+ subscription, and if word comes in that the actress will play Nakia a third time, we’ll let you know. Until then, Nyong’o will next be seen in A Quiet Place: Day One, which is slated on the 2024 movies calendar for a March 8 release.