He starred in one of the biggest films to ever grace the silver screen.

And while Chadwick Boseman won the "Best Superhero" golden popcorn statue at the 2018 MTV Movie & TV Awards, he was quick to praise a true hero in the audience at the Barker Hanger in Santa Monica, California.

The 40-year-old Black Panther star thanked the fans for accolades before calling on "real life" Waffle House shooting hero James Shaw Jr. to accept the award on stage, the Daily Mail reports.

"Thank you to the fans," Boseman said. "You made this movie special, you made this moment special when Black Panther came out."

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The star-studded film amassed more than US$1billion in four weeks at the box office, and became the third highest grossing film in North America.

"Ryan Coogler and I wanted to make sure that we did a movie that everybody could embrace, so thank you so much for what you did," he continued.

"Receiving an award for playing a superhero is amazing but it's even greater to acknowledge the heroes that we have in real life. So I just want to acknowledge someone that is here today, James Shaw Jr."

The 29-year-old father became a national hero after he wrestled an AR-15 assault rifle from a gunman who burst into the Antioch, Tenn. Waffle House on April 22 and opened fire.

 James Shaw Jr. accepts award from Actor Chadwick Boseman onstage at the 2018 MTV Movie And TV Awards at Barker Hangar on June 16, 2018 in Santa Monica, California. Photo / Getty Images
James Shaw Jr. accepts award from Actor Chadwick Boseman onstage at the 2018 MTV Movie And TV Awards at Barker Hangar on June 16, 2018 in Santa Monica, California. Photo / Getty Images

"You didn't even know we were about to do this," Chadwick laughed as the crowd erupted in applause for James. "If you don't know James - he fought off a gunman in Antioch, Tennessee ... a Waffle House. He saved lives.

"So this is gonna live at your house. Godbless you man."

Immediately after the shooting, Shaw set up a GoFundMe page with an initial goal to raise US$15,000 for the victims.

In mid May, the total hit more than US$241,000 and Shaw presented a check to the families, and injured victims, at a private ceremony at Tennessee State University.

Shaw, the father of a four-year-old girl, initially hid in the toilet when half-naked shooter Travis Reinking burst into the restaurant.

Reinking shot through the door, grazing his forearm, when James decided it was time to fight back.

 James Shaw Jr. (L) accepts award from Actor Chadwick Boseman onstage at the 2018 MTV Movie And TV Awards at Barker Hangar on June 16, 2018 in Santa Monica, California. Photo / Getty Images
James Shaw Jr. (L) accepts award from Actor Chadwick Boseman onstage at the 2018 MTV Movie And TV Awards at Barker Hangar on June 16, 2018 in Santa Monica, California. Photo / Getty Images

"I acted in a blink of a second. When he reloaded his clip, which felt like 30 minutes. I looked at him, and he wasn't looking at me. He just had the barrel down. It was like, 'Do it now. Go now.' I just took off," he told the New York Times.

"I hit him with the door and the gun was kind of jammed up. I grabbed it from him and I threw it over the counter top."

Shaw then chased the killer out of the diner while the fleeing man hurled abuse at him for intervening. "I just wanted to live, and he was, like, astonished, that I wanted to live," he recalled.

Reinking escaped on foot, shedding his only item of clothing, and fled into the woods. He was finally arrested almost 36 hours later after a manhunt involving 160 law enforcement officers, and charged with four counts of criminal homicide.