I, along with many Marvel fans, approached “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” with a good amount of apprehension. After the death of lead actor Chadwick Boseman in 2020, it seemed like an impossible task to not only explain, but to adequately mourn, and eventually move on. Thankfully, director and co-writer Ryan Coogler handles it impeccably well, and this sequel not only provides a touching, lasting tribute to Boseman, but it builds a bright future for the characters in the Black Panther realm of the MCU.
In the wake of King T’Challa’s sudden death, Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) and daughter Shuri (Letitia Wright) are distraught. Wakandans are stunned and feeling lost without their King, and the two women must move swiftly by taking on greater roles in protecting their nation and its most valuable resource: vibranium. Hearing of the turmoil in Wakanda, a group of blue-skinned underwater mutants known as the Talokanil send their leader, Namor (Tenoch Huerta), to pay a visit to the Queen. The Americans and the CIA have developed a machine that can detect vibranium, and they’ve started drilling in the ocean to mine for the natural resource. Namor wants to kill the person reasonable for developing the machine, and he tries to convince Ramonda to join forces with his people. After meeting the college-aged scientist (Dominique Thorne) that would be the intended target, the Queen refuses. This causes a high-stakes battle between the Talokanil and Wakandans.
It’s a story with a surprising amount of depth, even if the premise is simple. Heavy themes of grief and loss lend a strong amount of emotional heft to the film, especially when Shuri’s sorrow grows into a thirst for revenge. The solid dramatic scenes are done well, including a lovely dynamic in the performances from Bassett and Wright as Queen and Princess. The heavier emotional pieces are off-set by huge action scenes that will appease comic book fans looking for a satisfying thrill ride. It’s big and noisy, but soulfully poignant, too.
The film has a female-driven story and features women in power, which proves to be its strongest asset. They are the more interesting characters in Wakanda, and it’s thrilling to watch as Shuri suits up to protect her nation. Most of the characters are female (including actors Danai Gurira, Florence Kasumba, and Lupita Nyong’o reprising their roles from the original), and the racial diversity among the cast is commendable. This is big-budget film where onscreen representation feels natural and intuitive.
The story (from Coogler and co-writer Joe Robert Cole) is silly and overstuffed, but it’s entertaining. There are real stakes here, with character deaths and destruction where actions do indeed have consequences.
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is the follow-up that fans needed. It’s a moving (and fun) superhero action movie that forges a bright new path for the Black Panther legacy.
By: Louisa Moore