Chadwick Boseman’s Death is a Reminder of All That We Do Not Know

I’ve never seen Black Panther. I think the last MCU movie I saw was the first Avengers. This is due to indifference. I’m not big into Marvel, and only slightly more into DC (the last DC movie I saw was Dark Knight Rises, which doesn’t count). That whole journey went right by me. Don’t take it personally.

So I don’t have anything to say about Chadwick Boseman as an actor. I’m sure he was good, or at least good enough to play the lead in the only comic book movie to get an Oscar nomination for Best Picture (what an antiquated term. No one calls them “moving pictures” anymore. Why don’t they call it Best Film?). I’m not here as a critic.

But that Twist. The fact that he’s been fighting Stage3/4 colon cancer since 2016. That he gave those performances, fought his way through Panther, Infinity War, and Endgame while undergoing chemo, catches the heart somehow. And sure, acting in a film is not storming the beaches of Normandy. But it’s not manning a checkout line at Safeway either. They pay you to do it because it’s work.

Above and beyond Bosments’s suddenly-apparent nigh-superhuman toughness, however, sits the fact that such a secret stayed hidden. Granted, Hollywood is good at hiding things. But health ain’t always exactly a secret. If Betty White had the sniffles, the internet would shut down for a day in pre-emptive mourning. But Black Panther had butt cancer and not even the 4channers knew.

That’s the lesson. Whoever you know, whoever you don’t know, whoever you hate, whoever you love, they’re carrying things that no one but God and their general practictioner know about. Things that are not spoken of outside of the four walls of their homes. What you see of a person – any person – is no more than what they show you.

That’s why The Man said Don’t Judge. Not because we’re incapable of judging, but because the full content of a human soul is hidden from us. We need most desperately to remember that in these supremely judgey times. For we are fragile, and our time is short.

Requiscat in Pace Æternam.

Why I Labor to Care About the Marvel Universe

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Which is to say, why I don’t labor at all. I don’t even bother.

Here’s what I’ve seen:

  • Iron Man (the first one)
  • The first Avengers movie
  • Captain America (the first one)
  • The first half-hour of Thor (again, the first one)
  • A good part of the first season of Jessica Jones

I liked the first two and found them entertaining. The Avengers in particular exceeded my expectations. I found the third one pleasant enough and did not mind it. The fourth one bored me and I did not continue watching. The fifth one wasn’t bad, but neither did it jump out at me.

The thing to note about these reactions is how tepid they are. Some I liked better than others, but the ones I liked I did not love, and the ones I didn’t I did not hate. I cannot summon dudgeon to condemn them as garbage, nor can I get very excited about them.

Some of this stems no doubt from the fact that I’ve never been much of a Marvel fan. But that didn’t stop me from watching the ones I did, and I have even less interest in the DC Universe movies (the only one of which I’ve seen is Wonder Woman, which I enjoyed). However, the sheer number of them them and the way the storylines weave in together, which is one of the things that make it interesting for the fans, actually puts me off bothering with them. I’m a busy man, and I’m not going to hit the theaters for every last Iron Man and Thor and Captain America flick just so I can be  up to speed when Infinity Avengers: Ragnarok Wars (or whatever) comes out.

But then, I don’t have to go to the theaters. I can rent at home, binge on Netflix or Amazon Prime. I could keep myself caught up if I wanted to.

I just don’t want to.

Maybe the ubiquity of the excitement is a turn-off for me. But Star Wars has done the same thing, and I’m not sick of that yet. Maybe I’m too old to have much enthusiasm for comic-book movies anymore. But I still read comic books.

Maybe what’s missing is that emotional connection. I don’t particularly feel anything when I watch the movies. I mean, they’re fun. Acting is solid. Special effects are first-class. They have a wonderfully wry sense of humor, and the discipline to know when to withhold it. But somehow, I just don’t care about them.

Maybe it’s me. It’s probably me.