Get your Kimoyo beads, it’s time…. time to go back to Wakanda!
This time, however, it’s no secret that a potent figure will be noticeably missing. BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER takes the inhabitants of Wakanda through the stages of grief while they continue to fight off threats to the most powerful nation in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). While all of the movie’s leads will feel grief, and some feel the need for revenge, they all (eventually) feel hope. The identity of the new Black Panther, seemingly forcibly needed by the film’s antagonists, is less interesting. The most impactful story is how we get there through this balanced sequel.
While Queen Romonda (Angela Bassett), Shuri (Letitia Wright), Okoye (Danai Gurira), and co. are reeling from the loss of King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), the world both mourns and looks to take advantage of his sudden passing. But Wakanda’s hierarchy continues to show unity and strength. Enter Namor (Tenoch Huerta), the mutant with superhuman powers of the Homo mermanus race. Huerta’s performance is a conflicting one. You either love him, or you hate him. Regardless, while the Homo maermanus have their motives, they threaten the fall of Wakanda. And we’re not standing for that.
BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER does a masterful job of balancing the inevitable sadness while maintaining its predecessor’s energy and beautiful sequences. Throughout, the conversations around loss are handled with maturity, something we haven’t quite seen in an MCU film. The battles between the Dora Milaje and the Homo mermanus are stellar. The arrival of the highly anticipated character, Riri Williams, aka Ironheart (Dominique Thorne), is at the center of the conflict due to her Tony Stark-like genius that saw the creation of machinery that raises tensions for both the Wakandians and Homo mermanus.
As Wakanda takes a final stand, there must be a successor to the mantle of the Black Panther. However, ‘who’ it is becomes an afterthought when watching the progressions in the film. How the mantle is assumed and then taking on the responsibilities as the next leader of Wakanda are a deep internal struggle here. We won’t spoil who is is here, although based on what’s been released so far in trailers it’s not hard to deduce. Some minimal investigative skills would help reveal the film’s biggest kept secret… or is it?
A first for the MCU, a film lost its leading man in the real world. Appearing in four films, most recently AVENGERS: ENDGAME, and for the final time in the Disney+ series, “What If…?” the world admired Boseman’s performance as King T’Challa. Announcing his passing in 2020, his family called the role “the honor of his career.” And it was a privilege for us to watch him. When a void like that is left, it’s nearly impossible to duplicate the same success in any follow-up.
But in the wake of a palpable void, Ryan Coogler’s ensemble manages to uplift the film by adding depth to their characters. The movie doesn’t have a singular lead in these formerly supporting characters. Instead, they all propel the story forward together as a unit. For Wakanda, despite Queen Romonda having the final say, there isn’t a single controller. Their collective loss requires them to embrace one another through tears, laughs, and battles because that’s how Wakanda will remain forever. On-screen and in our hearts. So as they grieve, so too must they move forward: together.
BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER is a fitting tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman and it’s a stellar sequel of an MCU film. The first installment transcended the big screen and became a cultural phenomenon, and we expect that tradition to continue. While King T’Challa will be dearly missed, the film is an example of “do it by committee,” and it does so marvelously.
See it for Yourself
BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER opens in theatres on November 11, 2022.