Wakanda really is forever. At this morning’s Emmy nominations, the late Chadwick Boseman was honored with a posthumous nod for his voiceover work as T’Challa/Black Panther (or technically T’Challa/Star-Lord) in an episode of Disney+ and Marvel Studios’ What If...? The anthology series explores alternate realities in the Marvel universe—Boseman’s winning episode was entitled “What If… T’Challa Became a Star-Lord?” and was directed by Bryan Andrews.
The nod is Boseman’s second posthumous nomination, a testament to the timeless quality of his onscreen work. The actor, who died from colon cancer in August 2020 at the age of 43, was nominated for a posthumous Best Actor Oscar for his final role as trumpeter Levee Green in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Anthony Hopkins ultimately beat Boseman out that year, winning for his performance in The Father.
Boseman is also not the only late talent to receive their due at this years Emmy nominations. Comedian Norm Macdonald, who privately battled cancer for years before his death in 2021, garnered a nod for his final standup special, Netflix’s Norm Macdonald: Nothin’ Special. Released on May 31, the last day of eligibility for this year’s Emmys, Nothin’ Special captures Macdonald’s voice at its wisest, wiliest, and most irreverent, presenting a moving and hilarious portrait of terminal illness, self-possession, and, ultimately, letting go. Peers of Macdonald’s like Adam Sandler, Conan O’Brien, David Letterman, David Spade, and Molly Shannon appear at the end of the special to discuss Macdonald’s life and work.
Finally, Lucille Bluth also managed to have the last laugh at this year’s awards (as she should). Jessica Walter, who died peacefully in 2021 at the age of 80, received a second posthumous nomination for her voice-over work in FX’s Archer. Walter was nominated for the same role last year.
Although a posthumous Emmy nominee hasn’t nabbed a trophy since Raúl Julia won after his death for 1994's The Burning Season, the practice of nominating late creatives remains one of the awards circuit’s best traditions. After all, honoring a deceased artist’s form feels more affecting than a typical “In Memoriam” montage, a medium with a track record of devaluing and disrespecting exactly the people they’re meant to eulogize— just ask “hip hop fashion designer” Virgil Abloh.