They tend to highlight the actor’s brilliant cinematic achievements portraying kings, history-makers, and soldiers — in a word, heroes. But Boseman’s life behind the scenes found him inhabiting the role of an everyday hero as well, visiting children with cancer and returning the Wakanda salute to fans in public.

Both of these aspects are what his Marvel Cinematic Universe co-stars Don Cheadle and Robert Downey, Jr., spoke to when they presented Boseman with the posthumous Hero for the Ages honor at the MTV Movie & TV Awards: Greatest of All Time special which aired on Sunday night (December 6th).

Boseman was posthumously named “Hero for the Ages” during the special. MTV said the award “honors a star whose heroism onscreen was only surpassed by the true hero they were offscreen.” The Black Panther star passed on August this year at age 43 after battling colon cancer.

“Chadwick will forever be known as the Black Panther, but he also painted incredibly powerful portrayals of iconic and influential real men who changed the world (as His list of selfless and inspirational acts and deeds is too long to recount here, consistently showing up during trial and triumph for family, friends, and fans alike, some of whom were battling the same invisible enemy. He was the most heroic when just being Chad),” Cheadle said, adding: “He brought humanity and truth to the portrayal of people that felt larger than life, and he did it in a way that honored their memories. His energy and intensity was undeniable,” Downey said during the show, adding that Boseman “truly embodied what it meant to be a superhero.”

Robert Downey Jr. and Don Cheadle honor Chadwick Boseman as MTV Awards'  Hero of the Ages |
Don Cheadle & Robert Downey Jr. honor Chadwick Boseman at MTV Awards’ Hero of the Ages | (Picture:

Cheadle added: “Each time he stepped on the set, he inspired and influenced everyone there, and with every role he created a new legion of fans. He had an incredible power to unify people in their love for his work and their respect for him as a person. The way he lived his life united people behind a higher purpose, and that will be his legacy.

The remarks from Downey (Iron Man) and Cheadle (War Machine) spoke broadly to their own personal experiences with Boseman as well as what his commitment to his craft — and his willingness to live his heroism — meant to the world at large.

“The second you first saw him onscreen or had the opportunity to meet him in person, his energy and intensity was undeniable,” Downey said. “There was something different and special about Chadwick Boseman.”

Cheadle also noted that while Boseman is best known for his role as Black Panther (which cleaned up at the 2018 MTV Movie & TV Awards, winning Best Movie, Best Performance in a Movie, and Best Hero), the actor also made his mark portraying real-life luminaries Thurgood Marshall (in Marshall), James Brown (in Get on Up) and Jackie Robinson (in 42).

MTV’s GOAT show which aired in lieu of the MTV Movie & TV Awards due to the pandemic also honored and celebrated the biggest moments in movies and television from the ’80s until now — and speaking of superheroes, Gal Gadot presented an exclusive advance clip of her latest DC blockbuster, Wonder Woman 1984, hitting theaters (and HBO Max) on December 25. The special also honored several other stars, including Kevin Bacon, Drew Barrymore, Kristen Bell, Selma Blair, Jamie Lee Curtis, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Kevin Hart, Adam Sandler, Jason Segel and Cobra Kai star William Zabka. 

For more from the Movie & TV Awards: Greatest of All Time, check out the highlights right here. Also, an announcement at the end of the telecast revealed that the traditional awards show will return in May.

Watch the announcement below.