It's impossible for any child of the '90s to see Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle without thinking of Robin Williams. The beloved comedian starred in the original 1995 film that made playing board games a high-risk event, and he's the reason the movie became the classic that it is. The new rebooted Jumanji tribute to Robin Williams' character in Welcome to the Jungle is a small, but appropriate nod to the legacy the actor has left, both in the world of Jumanji and in the world of fans.
The Jumanji of Welcome to the Jungle is, well, not the Jumanji of decades past. Gone is the creepy board game. Jumaji is now a retro video game from the '90s. No more wild animals stampeding into your living room. Now players are sucked into the game automatically. But, while the game itself has changed substantially, one thing hasn't, and that's the mark Alan Parrish made on it. Fans of Jumanji will remember that Alan was sucked into the game as a child, only freed decades later by two orphans unlucky enough to roll the dice themselves. In Welcome to the Jungle, fans get a peek at what Alan's life was like all those years he was inside the game thanks to Alex (Nick Jonas).
Like Alan, Alex was sucked into Jumanji decades before the teenagers in Welcome to the Jungle decide to play the game themselves. He's been dodging animal attacks and threats from the villainous Van Pelt inside Jumanji ever since first playing the game in 1996. By the time our heroes Spencer, Fridge, Bethany, and Martha meet him, he's been living in Jumanji for two decades, though it only feels like a few months for him. Stuck without anyone to help him escape, Alex has managed to survive in large part thanks to an abandoned house in the jungle. The house Alan built before him.
Alex and Alan never overlapped in the game, so when Alex found Alan's makeshift house in the jungle, it was abandoned. But, Alan made sure his mark was left in Jumanji. One one of the wooden logs used as railing, the name "Alan Parrish" is clearly carved. Alex doesn't know who he is or what his story was, all he knows is this is Alan's house and he's just living in it. The group accepts this seemingly innocuous facts and move on, but fans of the original film will delight in the meaning of the small reference. Williams might not have been able to return for the film, a spiritual sequel of sorts to the 1995 movie, but his legacy lives on in the framework of the franchise.
A Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle tribute to Robin Williams and his character was always planned. Executive producer and star Dwayne Johnson assured fans early on that the film was not a reboot — no recasting necessary. Furthermore, he promised that the new movie would honor Williams' character. In an Instagram post published as production on the film was just beginning, Johnson told fans that he was approaching the project with nothing but "love and respect" for the actor. "You have my word, we will honor his name and the character of 'Alan Parrish' will stand alone and be forever immortalized in the world of JUMANJI in an earnest and cool way," Johnson wrote.
The tribute to Williams' character in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is small, but effective. It shows how, even though the game changes, some things remain. Fans will, unfortunately, never see Williams reprise the role of Alan Parrish, but at least they can see him affect the lives of new Jumanji characters.