Fortnite: Who is El Chapulin Colorado?

Fortnite is a game that completely passed me by when it was really hot. A battle royale game where players could build structures to strategically position themselves and avoid instant death seems fun but It never really caught my attention. Maybe it really is just one of those games that pass you by when you become a surly old man like me. Not even the inclusion of video game heavyweights like Kratos, Master Chief, Jill Valentine, and Ryu have pushed me to install and hop into a game.

It just all feels so performative, where Epic Games is waving some shiny keys in my face in hopes of separating me from my money and time. The fact that it only takes some minor nostalgia and a bit of marketing to get people to buy V-Bucks is pretty terrifying. If there’s a beloved property you have in mind, there’s a good chance that someday, they’ll get roped into the giant money museum of nostalgia bait that is Fortnite.

If I’m being honest, however, I’m having some second thoughts, as Fortnite had announced that El Chapulin Colorado would be arriving in Fortnite on November 1st. Now, some of you who aren’t in the know are probably really confused to see this man in a goofy red suit that has weird, springy antennae on his head on Fortnite’s store page. You probably don’t even know what that name even translates to in English.

Well, I can start by telling you that the name of this character roughly translates to “The Red Grasshopper.” Pretty cool name right? To actually explain who this character is, however, we’ll have a little trip south of the border to a mysterious country only known as…..Mexico.

The reddest legacy

El Chapulin Colorado with his mallet
Credit: Televisa

El Chapulin Colorado is one of many characters of famed Mexican actor/comedian Roberto Gomez Bolanos, who is known by his stage name, Chespirito. His entire legacy has been built around various comedy shows that start a collection of characters that are exaggerated versions of people or concepts. For example, his most famous character, “El Chavo” (The Kid in English), is an orphaned child who gets into many mishaps and misadventures alongside other characters, usually ending in some degree of physical comedy.

The comedy in this show and in Chapulin stems from equal parts jokes and presentation; for El Chavo, the child characters were all played by adults and as a result, had its comedy stem from the actors playing up childhood innocence all while contrasting it with their adult appearances. El Chapulin Colorado is similar in that its own comedy stems from Chespirito playing an inefficient and inept superhero that worsens situations through farcical superhero acts.

Created to parody fictional heroes such as Superman, El Chapulin Colorado’s antics usually involved him saving the day through happenstance, the intervention of other characters, or sheer luck. Coupled with the episodic nature of the TV series, El Chapulin Colorado made for an enjoyable viewing experience, as each episode would entail plenty of sight gags, wordplay, and of course, physical comedy.

The earnestness of the character also made him easy to root for despite how bad he was at his job, as Chapulin himself never stopped trying to be a hero despite usually being outplayed by the villain and sometimes making things worse for everyone. It’s in that simple fact of enduring his own failures that made Chapulin an entertaining character to watch; you’d know he’d mess up a simple plan, but you’d also know that somehow, everything would be ok. Not to mention his demeanor, which wasn’t very hero-like, would bring about some pretty funny jokes that unfortunately require some fluency in Spanish to really appreciate.

It’s in these qualities that cemented the popularity of El Chapulin Colorado; the success of it and El Chavo has made Roberto Bolanos into a beloved icon in Mexican and Latin American culture. Doing a simple google search will net you plenty of information as to how far and wide Chespirito’s superhero comedy has been enjoyed, even inspiring a notable side character in The Simpsons of all things. His brand of comedy has been enjoyed by many of us that have grown up in Spanish-speaking homes (myself included) and will without a doubt stay that way until the end of time.

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You can squeak people on the head now

El Chapulin Colorado in Fortnite
Credit: Epic Games

So, after hearing all of that, what does that have to do with Fortnite of all things? Well, it’s honestly hard to say. Hell, even Epic’s own announcement on their website doesn’t even give a clear explanation as to why they put El Chapulin Colorado in freaking Fortnite. But there seems to be some degree of respect for Mr. Bolanos’s work, as many iconic gags and gadgets from the show have been brought into the game. Chapulin’s own Chipote Chillón (Squeaky Mallet), Chicharra Paralizadora (adapted here as the Paralizatrón CH-3000 Back Bling), and his bright red outfit (complete with antennae) have all been brought into the game.

In addition to these cosmetics (and an emote too), there’s also an experience created by a member of the community that replicates the sitcom. There you can experience the more fantastical aspects of the sitcom, such as shrinking down with Chapulin’s patented Pastillas de Chiquitolina (roughly translated to Shrinking Pills) and running at high speed using his special antennae. Without a doubt, there has been plenty of love shown for El Chapulin Colorado, and Fortnite seems to be a strangely good fit for him.

If you had told me that Fortnite would be the crossover nexus of every single nostalgic and popular property in existence, and would someday include El Chapulin Colorado, I’d probably ask you how you’d got in my house. Then I’d say you’re crazy for thinking that one single game would have a scenario where Batman, Kratos, Master Chief, and El Chapulin himself would be duking it out in a giant field. Then I’d tell you to stop smoking, cause that stuff’s working too well for you.

Jokes aside, I’m honestly happy that such a beloved and niche character is making his debut in such a huge game like Fortnite. El Chapulin Colorado isn’t a grand hero like Superman or a stoic warrior like Ryu, he’s just a goofy, somewhat extraordinary man that tries to do the right thing. He’s closer to us than we think, as he’s flawed and never outright saves the day like many of the well-known heroes do. But it’s that flawed and somewhat grounded nature of his that has made him a part of many people’s lives over the years. Of all the famous properties that exist, I’m genuinely happy that such an endearing character gets to stand toe to toe with some of gaming’s finest.

Ah crap, I guess I’m playing Fortnite now. Maybe I’ll see you guys out there? Just know that if I do, I’m rocking those antennae. And that hammer, to squeak people off a cliff with.

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