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  • Betsy Singleton Snyder

What Do You Do When a Superhero Dies?

I love pop culture.

I’m into Star Wars, Harry Potter, and I love movies and books. I love Mary Poppins, and if you come to my office you will see collections from all these fan favorites. I can barely go to Disney without medication.

My mom was a big fan of movies and books as well. In the old days, before subscriptions like Netflix, before cable, even before Blockbuster where we used to rent videos, my mom loved to sit down with popcorn and an apple for a classic like The Wizard of Oz, or The Sound of Music. She loved the oldies, but she thoroughly enjoyed going to the movies. The last movie we took her to see was Toy Story 3, another one of my favorite series from Pixar. I cannot watch that movie without crying. Never. Ever. Do not even mention that movie to me if you aren’t holding a tissue.

I guess that’s one of my legacies is the love of going into a nice, dark, cool movie theater and watching a great movie. It’s okay even if that movie isn’t great because I’m usually sitting with my husband or my husband and the boys, or my husband, the boys and some of our dear friends who like to see some of the biggies when they arrive at the theater.

We’ve also been Marvel Avenger fans. I mean, Hey, if you can’t enjoy super heroes, you are definitely too serious. Iron Man is such a smart mouth, but I’m a sucker for Captain

America, and his wholesome image, but then there’s the Hulk too. Mr. Get-out-of-the-way-Green Guy.

Then, in 2016, the Black Panther made his first appearance in “Captain America: Civil War.” In 2018, my family trekked to the local theater, bought our milk duds and skittles, our popcorn, and we watched “Black Panther.”

That’s when I was introduced to the Black Panther character, played by Chadwick Boseman. It became the highest-grossing film by a Black director, received numerous awards and seven Academy Award nominations. It was a really great film, and our kids loved King T’Challa, the Black Panther, and his nation, Wakanda, an African country that has developed advanced technology. The hero was the heart of the film.

Last week, when I heard that actor Chadwick Boseman died of colon cancer at 43, I could not believe it. Even more, I could not believe he had fought this awful disease while making so many great movies, and he never disclosed his illness while filming.

What he did while he was sick was visit children with cancer, help struggling actors, and give back. He lifted up others. For so many children, both African-American, Latino, Asian and white, he was a hero. In fact, when children learned that “King T’Challa” had died, they held funerals with their Avenger action figures. They believed it was important to stop, honor, grieve, and mourn. They are right.

We are living in a time when it is important that there are people around us who show us who we can be. Boseman was considered a leader, a man of dignity, pride and faith, who lifted others.

Our world has been living through a pandemic, through hurricanes, wildfires, and the reckoning of racial injustice. We need to follow those who have character, especially those who know what it means to protect others, build them up, and create a new world. Thank you, Chadwick Boseman. Thank you, King T’Challa. Thank you, all of you who are changing the world and bringing it closer to the kingdom of God, a kingdom of justice and peace and love for all.


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