Black Panther, T'Challa, Infinity War

Chadwick Boseman explains why there is such a thing as a 'casual' Wakanda Forever salute

Contributed by
May 17, 2018

To say Chadwick Boseman is having a great 2018 would be an understatement. Just three months ago he went from movie star to pop culture icon with the enormously successful Black Panther, and last month box-office lightning struck twice for him with Avengers: Infinity War, in which he reprised his role as the King of Wakanda. Even among a cast like his Infinity War co-stars, that's quite an achievement.

It also means Boseman's spent much of the year on the road, promoting Black Panther, then promoting Infinity War, and now continuing to promote Black Panther as that film hit Blu-ray this week. That means he's met thousands of fans face to face at this point, signed too many autographs and posed for too many photos to count, and that all means he's done the now-familiar "Wakanda Forever" salute a lot. Perhaps too much.

Boseman stopped by The Late Show With Stephen Colbert Thursday night, and Colbert brought up the possibility that Boseman is sick of doing the salute, which involves crossing his forearms over his chest (always right over left), something fans themselves claim to have spotted. As evidence, Colbert produced this photo from the Infinity War premiere, featuring a somewhat lazy version of the gesture.

"People... they've interpreted this to mean that maybe you've done this enough," Colbert joked.

Boseman laughed and attributed that particular image to the sheer number of times he's been asked to do the salute, basically using the excuse that they can't all be winners.

"I thought that was funny. It's like... because it's a salute, you know. If I was in the military and I did this [raises hand in military salute] every day, I'm not gonna do it the same very time," Boseman said. "Sometimes it's more pedestrian than others. So that person -- whoever I was doing it to at that moment -- caught a casual one. But three minutes before I probably did one that was like fully 'Yes!', you know."

Now, of course this could just be Boseman putting out a very tiny PR fire by insisting that he loves the salute and chalking that particular one up to constant repetition. Even if it is just an exercise in making nice on a talk show, though, Boseman has a point. You come up with a gesture in a creative space, thinking it'll look cool onscreen, and then when it does you can't escape it. That means even if you're still quite proud of it, you're going to let your guard down every now and then. So the Wakanda Forever salute isn't dead, but if you ask Boseman to do it in a photo, just know that you might still catch a "casual one."

Black Panther is available now on Blu-ray. Avengers: Infinity War is now in theaters.