After seeing his work in "42" playing sports icon Jackie Robinson, I went to the IMDb to look him up, afraid I'd see that I somehow missed this guy. And while I'm pretty sure I've seen him onscreen before, it's safe to say that "42" is the biggest showcase he's had as a performer so far. For most audiences, "42" is going to be their introduction to him. And whatever you think of the film, it's safe to say that Boseman gives a charismatic central performance that should put him on the map for casting directors everywhere.

Stepping into the shoes of a giant is never easy, and one of the hardest things about doing a biopic is finding someone who can suggest the greatness that makes the subject worth talking about in the first place. With Jackie Robinson, you have a double challenge, because you have to not only somehow capture the enormous charisma that made him such a perfect candidate for mainstream integration but also do a credible job of suggesting the physical gifts that made Jackie such a joy to watch when he was on the field.

Boseman is pretty great in the film, and I would be surprised if he doesn't end up getting a lot of work out of this. There are moments in the film that I don't think work at all except for Boseman, who can take even the corniest of scenes and find an emotional truth in there. He's been asked to play a very saintly version of a complicated man, and I'm sure at least part of why he approached the role the way he did is because he spent time with Jackie's real-life widow. Even with the way the script works, though, Boseman shows us the struggle that's going on inside this guy as he tries to take a step that's going to change things for not just him, but for everyone who comes after him.

We spoke about the pressures that are on an actor when he's playing a real person, and about the preparation he did. It was, as most of these conversations are, too short, but it was enough of a conversation to walk away convinced that Boseman is just warming up. For what? Only time will tell.

"42" is in theaters this weekend.

A respected critic and commentator for fifteen years, Drew McWeeny helped create the online film community as "Moriarty" at Ain't It Cool News, and now proudly leads two budding Film Nerds in their ongoing movie education.