Fortnite reintroduced the fan favorite character Black Panther into the game with a trailer that functioned as a thinly veiled tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman, whose stunning performance brought the character to life for millions of fans.
Boseman tragically passed away earlier this year due to an aggressive and cruel form of cancer which he battled as he performed his final roles. Fortnite has already paid the legendary actor a form of tribute previously, but it seems there aren’t enough words to fully express the loss family, friends, and fans feel following Boseman’s passing.
Fortnite continues to honor Chadwick Boseman
The trailer meant to reveal the inclusion of three Marvel characters in Fortnite, prominently features a large cast of characters from both Marvel and Fortnite, gathering beneath a massive statue of a panther. Black Panther walks atop the statue, which leads to the crowd below spontaneously giving the character the Wakanda salute, to which the character responds in kind.
It’s easy to see how this Fortnite trailer clearly functions as a tribute to Boseman. When the public learned of Boseman’s passing, fans of all ages, overcome with grief, adopted the salute as a way to express their pain to one another, putting their own tributes on the internet for others to see.
Fortnite had previously added the panther statue and POI to the game during its Marvel Season following Boseman’s passing, perhaps knowing that fans and players would appreciate the gesture and opportunity to have a place to express their grief in game. Players were able to arrange vigils in game, as they gathered to honor both the character, and actor who brought him to life.
Why this character prompted so much attention
It’s hard to discuss the Black Panther character and why Chadwick Boseman’s portrayal of him was so important without getting somewhat caught up in the weeds of how black characters are commonly portrayed in cinema, especially within the superhero genre.
Superhero movies, especially those made by Marvel, overwhelmingly feature strong white men as leading roles, with all other demographics reduced to secondary and tertiary roles. Of the first wave of Marvel movies which led up to The Avengers, every single one starred a white man as the leading role.
It’s no surprise that many people felt disappointed and alienated that the Marvel movies lacked anyone who looked, acted, or talked like them in a leading role. It wasn’t until Guardians of the Galaxy that Zoe Saldana would have a semi-leading role (albeit while painted green), and it would take another four years for Chadwick Boseman to have a leading role in a movie.
Understandably, Boseman was under considerable pressure during his portrayal of Black Panther. Black Panther released, the movie shot up to be one of the highest grossing movies of all time, critics praised it, and Boseman’s performance delivered the character to the wider world in a way that could not be replicated.
The hype, long wait, and ultimate payoff, all contributed to making Black Panther into a landmark film in a way that the other Marvel movies simply weren’t.
Boseman became an instant legend
Unfortunately, Boseman died shortly after the release of Black Panther.
Boseman’s death came as a shock to fans, and coincidentally Fortnite was in the middle of an entire season of content themed around Marvel’s works.
In the wake of his death, Fortnite was able to provide players with some way to express themselves, and while that was months ago now it seems that there is still more grieving to do.
It’s easy to see why Fortnite has aimed to keep the character’s inclusion in their game as respectful as possible.Published 23 Dec 2020, 03:29 IST