Hollywood stars such as Chris Hemsworth and Denzel Washington have paid tribute after the shock death of Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman.
The 43-year-old died after a four-year battle with colon cancer, which he kept private.
He passed away at home in Los Angeles with his wife and family by his side, his publicist said.
Boseman played black icons Jackie Robinson and James Brown before finding fame as the regal Black Panther in the Marvel universe.
His T’Challa character was introduced in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, and his Wakanda Forever salute became famous after Black Panther became a huge hit two years later.
It became the first superhero film nominated for best picture at the Oscars.
A message on Boseman’s official Twitter account read: “It is with immeasurable grief that we confirm the passing of Chadwick Boseman.
“Chadwick was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016, and battled with it these last four years as it progressed to stage IV.”
It said many of his recent roles had been filmed “during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy”.
Hollywood A-listers joined musicians and politicians in paying tribute to the actor, calling him “incredible”, “sincere” and “genuine”.
“He was a gentle soul and a brilliant artist, who will stay with us for eternity through his iconic performances over his short yet illustrious career,” said Oscar winner Denzel Washington.
Chris Hemsworth, who plays Thor in the Marvel films, posted on Instagram: “Gonna miss you mate. Absolutely heartbreaking.
“One of the kindest most genuine people I’ve met. Sending love and support to all the family xo RIP.”
Actress Halle Berry said: “Here’s to an incredible man with immeasurable talent, who leaned into life regardless of his personal battles.
“You never truly know what the people around you might be going through – treat them with kindness and cherish every minute you have together. RIP #ChadwickBoseman.”
Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden also paid tribute, tweeting that Boseman “inspired generations and showed them they can be anything they want – even super heroes”.
Boseman’s final tweet on 12 August was an image of himself and Kamala Harris, celebrating her selection as Mr Biden’s running mate.
Captain America star Chris Evans said he was “absolutely devastated” at his friend’s death.
I’m absolutely devastated. This is beyond heartbreaking.
Chadwick was special. A true original. He was a deeply committed and constantly curious artist. He had so much amazing work still left to create. I’m endlessly grateful for our friendship. Rest in power, King💙 pic.twitter.com/oBERXlw66Z
— Chris Evans (@ChrisEvans) August 29, 2020
“He had so much amazing work still left to create. I’m endlessly grateful for our friendship. Rest in power, King,” added Evans.
Bernice King, daughter of civil rights activist Dr Martin Luther King, wrote: “We never know what people are enduring. Humans…we are wonders.
“Thank you, Chadwick, for gifting us with your greatness in the midst of a painful struggle.”
Marvel Entertainment posted a picture of Boseman in Black Panther and said his “legacy will live on forever”.
Mark Ruffalo, who starred alongside Boseman in the Marvel films, playing Hulk, said: “It was the highest honour getting to work with you and getting to know you. What a generous and sincere human being…”
Singer John Legend said Boseman “brought grace, elegance and power to everything he did”.
I’m so shocked and heartbroken about Chadwick. He was such a bright light, such a gifted performer. He brought grace, elegance and power to everything he did. He always seemed to carry our ancestors with him. And now he joins them far too soon.
— John Legend (@johnlegend) August 29, 2020
Don Cheadle, who also starred in the Marvel films, said: “I will miss you, birthday brother. you were always light and love to me. my god … forever and ever …”
Actress Reese Witherspoon tweeted: “May god bless you and carry you home, Chadwick Boseman.
“We lost one of the greats today. His legacy will live on forever in his beloved films and in the heart of everyone who loved him.”
Star Wars actor John Boyega shared two broken heart emojis and retweeted other tributes, including a picture of Boseman with basketball star Kobe Bryant – who also died unexpectedly this year.
Boseman was born in South Carolina and graduated from Howard University in 2000.
He originally wanted to be a writer and director and appeared in a number of TV roles while continuing to write plays.
His breakthrough role came when he played baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson in the 2013 film 42. The following year he played another iconic black figure, starring as soul legend James Brown in Get On Up.
In 2017, he took on the role of Thurgood Marshall, the first African American to serve on the US Supreme Court.
But it was his role in Black Panther – the ninth highest grossing film of all time – that propelled him into the consciousness of film fans across the world.
His character’s famous salute inspired many to feel an added sense of pride in their African heritage.
Boseman reprised his role in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, and a sequel to Black Panther was scheduled for release in 2022.
He remained sceptical of the industry that made him famous, once saying: “You don’t have the same exact experience as a black actor as you do as a white actor.
“You don’t have the same opportunities. That’s evident and true.
“The best way to put it is: How often do you see a movie about a black hero who has a love story – with a black woman, or any woman for that matter … he has a spirituality. He has an intellect. It’s weird to say it, but it doesn’t happen that often.”