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Black Panther Fans Are Worried About Chadwick Boseman's Dramatic Weight Loss

Editor's Note: This news broke in April 2020, and the article has since been updated following Chadwick Boseman's passing in August 2020.

Life had certainly been good for Chadwick Boseman since he became the King of Wakanda, but fans of the Black Panther star suddenly became worried for his health in mid-April 2020.

Those worries arose after Boseman took to Instagram to post a video in celebration of what would've been Major League Baseball's "Jackie Robinson Day." With professional baseball suspended indefinitely due to concerns over coronavirus, Boseman — who portrayed Jackie Robinson in the 2013 biopic 42 – chose to celebrate the day with a video post that was also meant to commemorate the launch of "Operation 42," a collaboration between Thomas Tull and FIGS, who manufacture surgical scrubs. The noble collaboration made a $4.2 million donation to supply medical gear to African American communities hardest hit by the pandemic.

Rather than celebrating Jackie Robinson Day and Operation 42's huge donation alongside the actor, Boseman's fans were instead taken aback by his appearance in the video, noting specifically his dramatic weight loss. The comments section on the video quickly filled up with questions about Boseman's health, with some bluntly asking, "Why are you looking so thin??" and others simply offering good vibes, "Wishing you good health, King." One fan even took a moment to celebrate Boseman's announcement before voicing his concerns, "Dude, I'm all in for this, but please reassure your fan base about your health 'cause even I am starting to be kinda worried."

The video itself has since been removed from the main feed of Boseman's Instagram page, but it can still be seen in the IGTV section of his profile

At the time, neither Boseman nor his reps offered an explanation on the matter.

Many believed Chadwick Boseman was preparing for a new role

Back then, many were inclined to believe Boseman had begun a weight-loss regimen in preparation for a future role. Marvel's Black Panther 2 was the obvious standout amongst the projects Boseman had in the works prior to his death in August 2020, but given the physical nature of Boseman's MCU work, it felt highly unlikely he'd lose weight for the role. With Boseman having, at the time, also already wrapped work on Spike Lee's Da 5 Bloods and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, many theorized that he had been preparing for one of two projects.

The first is a sci-fi series entitled The Black Child. While little is known of the show, it appears the story will focus on a slave-era African family who escape their lives on a plantation, only to find themselves transported to America in 2020. The second is a biopic entitled Yasuke, which would have found Boseman playing a 16th-century slave warrior who went on to become the only known Samurai of African origin. On IMDb, Yasuke is listed as being in pre-production; it's unclear how or if the film will move forward without Boseman.

Others said Chadwick Boseman was just naturally thin

On the other hand, some argued that the actor was always been thin when he wasn't bulking up and getting ripped for a movie role, and that was the explanation for his appearance.

Notably, filmmaker and journalist Xilla Valentine headed to Twitter with a video of him interviewing Boseman in 2017 during a junket for Marshall, a biopic in which the star played the first Black U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. In the caption of the video, Valentine wrote that Boseman was "just a skinny dude." He continued, "Back in 2017 when I interviewed him for MARSHALL. We joked about our dinner at Red Rooster and he is now VEGAN. He has been this slim."

Activist and #OscarsSoWhite creator April Reign also noted in a tweet that Boseman was simply a slender guy, and that there wasn't cause for concern. "Having had the privilege of being in the same room with Chadwick Boseman a few times, my experience is that he's naturally thin," Reign tweeted, accompanying a photo of herself with Boseman. "Perhaps many of the roles you remember him for require him to bulk up, but on the regular? He's fine, y'all." She also cheekily added that Boseman was an attractive guy no matter what, writing, "And... he's fine. Y'all."

Chadwick Boseman died after a long battle with colon cancer

Tragically, Boseman's appearance was the result of a serious illness that wound up taking his life. On August 28, 2020, Boseman's family confirmed in a statement that the actor died at the age of 43 after fighting colon cancer for four years. He was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016, the same year Black Panther first appeared in the MCU in Captain America: Civil War, and it unfortunately progressed over time. 

"It is with immeasurable grief that we confirm the passing of Chadwick Boseman.⁣ Chadwick was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016, and battled with it these last 4 years as it progressed to stage IV. ⁣A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much. From Marshall to Da 5 Bloods, August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and several more, all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy," the statement read. 

It continued, "⁣It was the honor of his career to bring King T'Challa to life in Black Panther. ⁣He died in his home, with his wife and family by his side. ⁣The family thanks you for your love and prayers, and asks that you continue to respect their privacy during this difficult time."

May he rest in peace.