Growing up as a Black comic fan, one of the primary jabs I would endure from racist bullies was that there were no Black superheroes of note. Obviously, the comment had no grounding in reality. Any superhero enthusiast worth their salt could rattle off at least 10 Black characters after waking up from a coma, but sometimes, perception is reality. To the general public, uneducated about the intricacies of superhero comics, Black superheroes didn't exist because they were absent in the world of television and film.
You saw the title; you know where this is going. Chadwick Boseman shattered that glass ceiling while helping Marvel earn a billion dollars at the box office. Even though Wesley Snipes' Blade preceded Boseman's turn as Black Panther by decades, T'Challa's inclusion in the MCU marked a turning point for representation in modern films. A trend of representation that Marvel still promotes to this day.
Prior to donning the mantle of Black Panther, Boseman was already quite adept at portraying Black superheroes. His first breakthrough role as Jackie Robinson in 42 showcased his charisma and talent. Boseman would later play James Brown and Thurgood Marshall with the same level of professionalism and aplomb.
It's sadly fitting that Boseman's birthday is today. At the time of this writing, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is still the undisputed box office queen several weeks into its run. The entire film is racked with the weight of Boseman's untimely passing and serves as a touching public wake for the millions of fans the actor's role impacted. I want to leave you with a scene from Boseman's first appearance as T'Challa that is perfectly apt for the actor's untimely passing.
Happy Birthday, Chadwick Boseman. You are with the ancestors now.