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Over the weekend, Black Panther officially became the third highest grossing domestic film, ever, beating Leonardo DiCaprio's 1997 film Titanic. That, combined with Chadwick Boseman bossing up during his Saturday Night Live hosting gig this weekend, was reason to celebrate, but it also gave folks a reason to dig up this old GIF.
Visual representation of Black Panther passing the Titanic in the U.S. box office. pic.twitter.com/R927oIeibZ— vals twin sis🌙 (@nakiamnger) April 8, 2018
Although even using that GIF brings up an entirely different question.
I still don’t understand why Chadwick was so mad. I need the story behind this ASAP or else I’m just gonna assume Chadwick doesn’t like Leo 😭— vals twin sis🌙 (@nakiamnger) April 9, 2018
Why was Chadwick Boseman side-eyeing Leonardo DiCaprio? It's hard to say. A simple Google search of their names doesn't pull up much, aside from an image of the two of them looking cordial enough at an Armani party. Sounds like my kind of conspiracy...let's dive in!
Now, the GIF and the Armani party image are both from the 2016 Oscars season. The Armani shot was from Roberta Armani's cocktail party, which celebrated the Oscar nominations that The Revenant received that year. The GIF in question is from the actual Academy Awards ceremony, during Alejandro G. Iñárritu's acceptance speech for winning Best Director for The Revenant. At the 1:55 mark, Iñárritu tells DiCaprio "you are The Revenant."
At that moment, it's hard to tell if Chadwick is specifically shading Leo or not. He does join the audience in applauding for Leo, but it could be read that the man who would become T'Challa on-screen was being a bit shady. Maybe it had to do with Chris Rock's opening monologue that year?
Strategic positioning of Chadwick Boseman right behind DiCaprio for this monologue is great. #Oscars— Film School Rejects (@rejectnation) February 29, 2016
Rock was a great host during a year where #OscarsSoWhite was such a prevelant conversation, and he didn't shy away from calling Hollywood "sorority racist." Towards the end of his monologue (8:20 in the video below), Rock says it's about people of color needing the same access to opportunity as white actors. When Rock specifically said "black actors," the cameraman cut to Boseman, who was clapping alongside Rock's comments. Rock even mentioned how "Leo gets a great part every year," while actors of color aren't afforded the same options.
Was Boseman, hours after Chris Rock spoke about the lack of opportunities for black actors in Hollywood, simmering in disdain at the mere mention of Leo during the broadcast? It's possible. Or maybe he was just tired.
I don't know about you, but watching an Oscars ceremony is draining enough. Uneventful red carpets bleed into fun monologues followed by a batch of awards before getting to the four main awards (Leading Actor, Leading Actress, Best Director, and Best Film). Sitting at home, downing Heineken after Heineken, I myself am usually comatose near the end of an awards show; imagine having to sit in the audience! Maybe Chadwick was just sleepy, and on the verge of passing out, glanced over at Leo. Again, it's possible.
Over the years, Reddit and various forums have wondered what the real story behind this seemingly-shady glance was. Madame Noire said Chadwick's reaction "was everything," although they were incorrect at saying it was for when he was announced for Best Actor; Chadwick was barely in the shot when Leo's name was called.
Currently, all we have is questions. We were still months away from Boseman debuting on the screen as T'Challa in Captain America: Civil War, so no one was even bothering to ask if he was indeed shading Leo over. Sadly, that means the world will never know until Boseman speaks on it. Although with all of the scrilla Black Panther made, one has to believe that the last thing on Chadwick's mind is explaining a sideways glance that could be taken as supreme shade from over two years ago.
Hopefully, he sets the record straight on this at some point.