The Black Panther handshake is officially part of pop culture canon – here’s how to pull it off properly. The cultural significance of Black Panther cannot be underestimated. After its release in early 2018, Black Panther went on to rank as the ninth highest-grossing film of all time and the highest-grossing film helmed by a black director. It was nominated for a total of seven Academy Awards and won three, making it the first superhero film to be nominated for Best Picture and the first Marvel Cinematic Universe movie to take home an Oscar. Moreover, Black Panther was a culturally important step forward in terms of black representation in mainstream cinema.
For proof of Black Panther’s place in pop culture history, look no further than its iconic handshake. Also known as the Wakanda Forever salute, the Black Panther handshake has come to symbolize black pride and solidarity. It’s become particularly popular with black athletes celebrating a win, with everybody from American tennis player Sachia Vickery to British soccer player Jesse Lingard and Kenyan rugby player Collins Injera doing the Wakanda salute after various sporting victories.
The Black Panther handshake is seen when T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) wins his fight against M’Baku (Winston Duke) and officially greets his people as their new king. It's seen again when T’Challa meets his sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) in her laboratory with a more informal take on the Wakanda salute. The handshake also made its way into Avengers: Infinity War when the Wakandan people team up with the Avengers to battle Thanos’ army.
It’s pretty simple to pull off too; simply clench the hands into a fist and bring your arms across your chest – right arm over left, according to Chadwick Boseman – and then bring your arms down to your sides. To mimic T’Challa and Shuri’s more informal salute, simply add a sliding handshake and a finger snap beforehand. Letitia Wright gives a pretty good demonstration in the Fandango Black Panter interview above around the 1:45 mark.
The inspiration behind the Black Panther handshake is interesting too. According to director Ryan Coogler, the Wakanda Forever salute takes inspiration from three main sources; West African sculpture, the American Sign Language word for “hug” and how the pharaohs of Egypt were laid to rest. While the craze may have died down a bit since the film's release, with the long-awaited Black Panther sequel set for release in 2022 we’re bound to see a resurgence of the Wakanda salute in the coming years.
- Black Widow (2020) release date: May 01, 2020
- Eternals (2020) release date: Nov 06, 2020
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) release date: Feb 12, 2021
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2021) release date: May 07, 2021
- Spider-Man: Homecoming 3 (2021) release date: Jul 16, 2021
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2021) release date: Nov 05, 2021
- Black Panther 2 (2022) release date: May 06, 2022