Although Black Panther is still breaking records at the box office, star Chadwick Boseman’s hosting turn on Saturday Night Live arrived this week almost two months after the film first hit theaters. As Boseman noted immediately in his monologue, Sterling K. Brown got to do a Black Panther sketch on SNL before Boseman, “and he dies in the first scene of the movie.” Which, of course, doesn’t count as a spoiler since the movie’s been out for two months!
Boseman drew a connection between his past roles as historical African-American trailblazers like Jackie Robinson, James Brown, and Thurgood Marshall with Black Panther‘s own history-making success. That’s when Kenan Thompson stormed the stage dressed as Panthro from ThunderCats to remind everyone that the whole “Black Panther-style superhero who has space-age technology” was done first, by him. Even more than name recognition, Panthro wanted Boseman’s help resuscitating his career.
“Come on, dude! I know you guys are doin’ a sequel. Hook a brother up,” Thompson’s Panthro begged. “It’s hard out there for a black space cat with spiky suspenders.”
When Boseman wondered if this was an example of the bad Black Panther sketches that writers had pitched earlier in the week (like one where “Black Panther has sex with Leslie Jones — and that was a Leslie Jones idea”), Thompson broke character in order to proudly defend his own idea. “Fifteen seasons, baby,” Thompson, the longest-running SNL cast member, said with a wink before leaving the stage.
Having already referenced his James Brown performance, Boseman couldn’t leave the SNL stage without jamming like the iconic musician. The band gave him a beat, and Boseman did a genuine James Brown dance straight out of Get On Up. Take that, T’Challa.
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