Robert Downey Jr. Praises How Chadwick Boseman 'Leveled the Playing Field While Fighting for His Life'

Robert Downey Jr. shared his own tribute for Chadwick Boseman on social media Saturday, hours after his Avengers co-star's death was announced. Boseman died Friday night after a four-year battle with colon cancer, which he never publicly disclosed. Boseman was best known for starring as Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, as well as his performances as James Brown, Jackie Robinson, and Thurgood Marshall. He was 43.

"Mr. Boseman leveled the playing field while fighting for his life... That’s heroism... I’ll remember the good times, the laughter, and the way he changed the game," Downey wrote on Twitter and Instagram, alongside a video of himself laughing with Boseman. The Iron Man actor added the hashtag "Chadwick Forever." The post quickly racked up over 19,000 comments, with dozens sharing crying emojis and broken hearts.

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Marvel Studios released its own statements on Boseman's death. Chief Kevin Feige called the actor an "icon for the ages" and his death is "absolutely devastating." Boseman made his debut as T'Challa/Black Panther in 2016's Captain America: Civil War before getting a solo film in 2018. He also starred in the last two Avengers movies with Downey. All four films were produced by Feige. "He was as smart and kind and powerful and strong as any person he portrayed," Feige said. "Now he takes his place alongside them as an icon for the ages. The Marvel Studios family deeply mourns his loss, and we are grieving tonight with his family."

Boseman's family announced his death Friday night. The actor was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016 and it recently progressed to stage IV. Boseman made several of his latest films while seeking treatments, including chemotherapy and surgeries. He died at 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," his family said.

Boseman's last film was Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, a Netflix adaptation of the August Wilson play directed by George C. Wolf. Netflix planned to host a virtual preview on Monday, but the event was postponed, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed. Boseman also starred in Spike Lee's acclaimed Vietnam War film Da 5 Bloods, which was released on Netflix earlier this year. Aside from the Marvel films, Boseman also starred in Marshall, 42, and Get On Up.