Chadwick Boseman surprises "Black Panther" fans with the greatest gift — himself

"Black Panther" fans who thought they were delivering a videotaped message to Chadwick Boseman got to meet him

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published March 1, 2018 9:15AM (EST)

Chadwick Boseman as T'Challa/ Black Panther in "Black Panter" (Marvel Studios)
Chadwick Boseman as T'Challa/ Black Panther in "Black Panter" (Marvel Studios)

Jimmy Fallon and Chadwick Boseman had a special surprise for "Black Panther" fans who thought they were taping video messages for the actor behind the film's titular character — the star himself.

One fan talked about how much it meant to her for Boseman to "step into the role as our king" and hold it with "such grace and poise and joy." Another mentioned that he saw the movie four times ("I do have a life," he added) and thanked Boseman for spending a lot of time in the Black Panther costume, since he began to get jealous when his girlfriend got excited after seeing Boseman's ripped chest. He also thanked Boseman for starring in a "great American superhero movie with, you know, people that look like me."

There was the fan who talked about how his father is a scientist from Ghana and his sisters are "brilliant African-American women," noting how the movie honored elements of his life that were so personally important to him. Boseman seemed touched — until the fan also pointed out that he had seen the film once on bootleg. "Wait, you're gonna bootleg my movie?" Boseman exclaimed in faux indignation as he revealed himself to the fan.

One "Black Panther" fan took the time to digress from thanking Boseman to add an expression of gratitude for the strong black female characters in the film. "They were so strong on their own terms and answered to no one to themselves," the fan pointed out, ending her statement by saying "Wakanda forever!" Boseman revealed himself to her by repeating the phrase "Wakanda forever!" in the voice of T'Challa.

Boseman's emotional appearance on The Tonight Show didn't end with his good-natured prank on "Black Panther" fans.

While describing his time at Oxford to Fallon, Boseman described learning that his education had been paid for by none other than acclaimed actor Denzel Washington. Although Boseman had been reluctant to publicly discuss Washington's generosity out of concern that it would seem like he was trying to take advantage of him, he mentioned how he finally had a chance to thank Washington in person during the "Black Panther" New York premiere.

"Oh, so that's why I'm here! You owe me money!" Washington joked to Boseman, prompting guffaws from Fallon.

Boseman later appeared on Twitter to explain how he "loved every minute" of his special appearance on Fallon's show.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Black Panther Chadwick Boseman Denzel Washington Jimmy Fallon