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Tribute to a King

I was that loner kid who read comics when everyone else was playing, listened to the B-sides, watched old movies ... And wrote in spirals

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Cuckoo For Super Heroes

Superheroes.

Some of my earliest memories are of superheroes.

Comic books, coloring books, book & records, cartoons ...

A plastic toy Batmobile with the the wheels on a spindle that you could pop off. A tiny pop in mold in Batman in the driver's seat; a yellow version of Robin in the passenger seat. This toy was everything to me when I was about six years old. Rolling it across my aunt's kitchen table with the "leaf" in the middle, imagining BURT WARD saying to ADAM WEST, "Atomic batteries to power, turbines to speed ..." Pretending that they were climbing up buildings to surprise the villain of the week in his or her literally crooked lair.

And let's not forget the movie magic made by MICHAEL KEATON, VAL KILMER and GEORGE CLOONEY with their versions of the caped crusader. Critics aside, just seeing this fabled avenger come to life on a huge movie screen ... Priceless.

A silent version of Spiderman was featured on the PBS educational show called, The Electric Company. The only way you knew what he was contemplating was if you could read his thought bubbles like in a comic book.

As far as the web-head went, long before TOBEY MAGUIRE, ANDREW GARFIELD or TOM HOLLAND were thought of, there was a series of tv movies in the 70s on CBS starring NICHOLAS HAMMOND. Back then, the red and blue wall crawler scaled walls by using a rope. And when his cartoon web was expelled, it turned into a black net. But hey, I was a kid, I was easy to excite.

There was REB BROWN as the tv version of Captain America before MATT SALINGER was able to play him in a feature that was released direct-to-video in the United States and in theaters internationally, almost 20 years later.

GEORGE REEVES, CHRISTOPHER REEVE, DEAN CAIN as Superman. With GERARD CHRISTOPHER and JOHN HAYMES NEWTON as Superboy in a underrated syndicated series that lasted four seasons.

But then there was something special about those movies that came along later in the 21st century. The ROBERT DOWNEY JR. and CHRIS EVANS era of actors portraying those wonderful fictional characters that used to be confined to comic book pages and cartoons.

Within all of this fictional fortitude, there always seemed to be an absence or lack of heroes with brown skin. Yeah they existed and some were able to make it to the screen, but no one quite as anticipated as the one and only Black Panther portrayed by CHADWICK BOSEMAN.

And don't get me wrong. Though I recognized King T'Challa from appearances in The Avengers and Fantastic Four comics -- as well as the back row of many a Marvel superhero group art on t-shirts and posters -- I really didn't know much about him. In fact, this was the first comic book movie that I didn't walk in knowing the full origin of the the protagonist.

Yet and still, I was excited. Mostly because of the sweet introduction they gave the character in the previous film, Captain America: Civil War, where Black Panther got to go toe to toe with Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye and War Machine. And this stupendous display of action truly whet my appetite for the solo venture premiering several months later.

The look of the film. The action. The music. The supporting actors. But most of all ... most of all ... The stature, the swagger, the effectiveness of the lead actor as the title hero ... So believable in this land of make believe that was originally conceived by writer/editor, STAN LEE and artist/co-plotter JACK KIRBY. pre-dating the Black Panther Party organization.

It was such a performance that you believed him as the character. And it made you want to watch every interview and check out previous movies (Marshall, Get On Up, 52, 21 Bridges) and tv shows (Lincoln Heights, Persons Unknown) to develop further analysis of this actor's gifts; deciding that maybe, just maybe his portrayal was not a fluke. That maybe, just maybe he embodied some of the same characteristics, sans the super powers.

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Anatomy of A Hero

I was supposed to be on ZOOM as a teacher's assistant. But I was halfway paying attention, if I can be totally honest and true. Okay, I really wasn't paying attention at all. In all honesty, I was actually watching Black Panther.

CHADWICK BOSEMAN.

He actually ... died?

Stop lying!

Superheroes aren't supposed to die ...

The epitome of kindness, elegance and diligence and grace, wrote co-star DANAI GURIRA

A class act.

A champion for terminally ill children ... The epitome of a real life superhero. But like Superman he had his Kryptonite; in the form of Colon Cancer. A malady that he suffered with in silence.

As he fought Winter Soldier and Ant Man in Captain America: Civil War. As he challenged Killmonger and banded together with his brethren to battle the mighty Thanos ... He, himself was fighting a tremendous inner war that nary a fan was aware of. Appearing larger than life on screen. Strong and regal.

Some spoke ill of him when he was being tended to by his assistants between scenes of one film; labeling him as a pampered diva. When in actuality they were seeing to his very physical needs.

Some even decided to speak ill of him when photos surfaced of him looking "under the weather" and dare I say, frail ... But even then he didn't reveal what was going on in his personal life.

Ironically, as internet bullies were attacking him, during the global pandemic, Chadwick was sending vegetarian recipes and eating regimens to his friend, RYAN COOGLER; checking up on people that he cared about even as his own days were coming to an end.

Great movie ...

Greater man.

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This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2022 LaZeric Freeman

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