Disneyland unveils touching mural tribute to ‘Black Panther’ star Chadwick Boseman

Chadwick Boseman as the Black Panther
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It’s a tribute fit for a king.

Disneyland recently unveiled a two-story-tall mural honoring the late actor Chadwick Boseman in its Downtown Disney shopping district. The artwork, aptly named “King Chad,” was created by movie illustrator and children’s book author Nikkolas Smith.

The mural, displayed on the side of the former ESPN Zone building, shows Boseman sharing a tender moment with a child wearing a hospital gown and a “Black Panther” mask. They’re both smiling and looking at each other with their arms crossed over their chests, doing the famous Wakanda salute. The sign is known in the film as a show of resistance in the face of adversity.

The illustration is also believed to be a nod to the actor’s visits to children with cancer at St. Jude campus, while secretly battling the disease himself.

Smith shared a photo of his work on Instagram, which shows him giving the Wakanda salute in front of the installation.

“This one is special. My King Chad tribute is now on a wall on display at Downtown Disney,” he wrote in the caption. “It is a full circle moment for me: my final two projects as a Disney Imagineer last summer were working on the children’s hospital project and the Avengers Campus.”

Nikkolas Smith doing the Wakanda salute in front of the King Chad mural
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“To millions of kids, T’Challa was a legend larger than life, and there was no one more worthy to fill those shoes than Chadwick Boseman,” he continued. “I’m so thankful to be able to honor Chadwick’s life and purpose in this way. I am grateful to the Disney family for being so supportive of my journey as an artist.”

In a statement to Downtown Disney, Smith revealed the inspiration behind his latest work.

“Seeing Chadwick’s heart for people in-person, and later discovering his courageous battle with cancer, I was inspired to create this tribute to honor his life and legacy. To us, he was and will always be T’Challa. Long Live The King.”

According to his family, Boseman was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer in 2016, which progressed to stage 4 over four years. The actor kept his diagnosis a secret from the public and continued to work on projects throughout several surgeries and chemotherapy treatments.

King Chad artwork
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When news of his death broke in late August, his friends in the industry and fans worldwide were shocked. Boseman passed away at age 43 in his Los Angeles home, surrounded by his loved ones. The star is survived by his wife and a parent and had no children, according to a report made by his publicist Nicki Fioravante to The Associated Press.

Boseman was best known for his role as King T’Challa in the Black Panther and Avengers movies. He also starred as baseball player Jackie Robinson in “42” and singer James Brown in “Get On Up.”

Marvel Studios is currently not looking to cast another actor as the Black Panther. Instead, they’re looking for ways to celebrate the Boseman’s life and works. The actor had already recorded a few lines for Marvel’s “What If,” which means that he will have one final posthumous role as King T’Challa.

Chadwick Boseman
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Disney also honored Boseman by releasing an ABC New Special titled “Chadwick Boseman – A Tribute for a King.”

Marvel Comics also paid tribute to Boseman by including a banner that reads, “Rest in power Chadwick Boseman 1976-2020” in the covers of several new comics.

Disneyland’s main park remains closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, but Downtown Disney in California is currently accepting visitors. The Boseman tribute will be on display until December 31, 2020.

According to his biography, Smith is “focused on creating captivating art that can spark important conversations in today’s world and inspire meaningful change.” If you would like to see more photos of “King Chad” and this artist’s other works, you may find them on his website.