No One at Marvel Knew About Chadwick Boseman’s Illness

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Chadwick Boseman’s death from colon cancer was, it’s been even more surprising to learn how closely he guarded the secret of his illness, and just how few people knew he was sick. Spike Lee worked with Boseman last year on Da 5 Bloods, and said on Instagram that no one on the movie knew Boseman had cancer. In his tribute to Boseman, Black Panther director Ryan Coogler admitted he “wasn’t privy to the details” of Boseman’s private struggle, and had spent the last year working on a Black Panther sequel that he believed Boseman would star in.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Boseman believed “until about a week before his death” that he would beat colon cancer and would star in Black Panther 2. As THR’s sources tell it, in fact, no one at Marvel knew that Boseman was sick — not even the head of the studio, Kevin Feige:

On Aug. 28, Marvel chief creative officer Kevin Feige received an urgent email regarding Chadwick Boseman, with no further information. Unbeknownst to anyone at the studio, the Black Panther star had been battling colon cancer privately for four-plus years and had taken a sudden turn for the worse. By the time Feige read the message an hour later, Boseman already had died, sending shock waves through Disney and the tight-knit Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Essentially, no one knew Boseman’s diagnosis beyond a very small handful of people including his agent, trainer, producing partner, and his 42 director, Brian Helgeland. That was what Boseman wanted, and his inner circle respected his wishes. The fact that everyone around Bosemen maintained this secret so carefully and completely, right up until the day they died is a heroic act in and of itself.

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