Fresh off back to back blockbusters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Black Panther and Avengers: Endgame, Chadwick Boseman is set to play Yasuke, the first African samurai gain prominence in Japan. The Get On Up star will also produce the film that’s set in 16th century Japan.
Co-creator of the Netflix hit Narcos, Doug Miro is writing the script, which centers on an African man who arrived in Japan in 1579 in the service of an Italian Jesuit and served under the Japanese warlord Oda Nobunaga. He was captured in a battle in 1582. According to legend, Yasuke is the only person of non-Asian origin to become a Samurai.
“The legend of Yasuke is one of history’s best kept secrets, the only person of non-Asian origin to become a Samurai,” Boseman said. “That’s not just an action movie, that’s a cultural event, an exchange, and I am excited to be part of it.”
As Deadline describes the project: “Yasuke was a native of Portuguese Mozambique who was brought to Japan as a slave to Jesuit missionaries. The first black man to set foot on Japanese soil, Yasuke’s arrival aroused the interest of Nobunaga, a ruthless warlord seeking to unite the fractured country under his banner. A complex relationship developed between the two men as Yasuke earned Nobunaga’s friendship, respect — and ultimately, the honor, swords and title of samurai.”
According to the biography “African Samurai: The True Story of Yasuke, a Legendary Black Warrior in Feudal Japan,” by Thomas Lockley and Geoffrey Girard, Yasuke was originally taken from his village near the Nile by slavers and eventually sent to India to serve the Portuguese.
Boseman has made a name for himself by playing roles of legendary figures such as Jackie Robinson in 42, James Brown in Get On Up, and Thurgood Marshall in Marshall.