Chadwick Boseman’s untimely passing shook the entire world. The man behind the mantle of Black Panther was a symbol of inspiration for all, but especially for Black audiences. In Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Boseman’s spirit lives on as those left behind wrestle with moving on from his passing.
To pick up the pieces that a pivotal character and actor left behind is a monumental feat. But filmmaker Ryan Coogler accepts the challenge and delivers flawlessly to create a film that thoughtfully pays tribute to Chadwick Boseman and the memory of T’Challa. But it also serves as a tale about grief, specifically how humans process it and move forward.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever finds Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), Princess Shuri (Letitia Wright), Okoye (Danai Gurira), Nakia (Lupita N’yongo), and their fellow Wakandans striving to protect their beloved nation. There are countries who covet its advanced technology and vibranium. Unfortunately, Wakanda must also navigate the threat that is Namor and his underwater kingdom of Talokan at the same time.
The movie’s story is amplified through the film’s score by Ludwig Göransson. And when his powers combine with costume designer Ruth Carter and the special effects team, the worlds that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever creates are truly all-encompassing.
Göransson and Carter both won Oscars for their work on Black Panther. So it should come as no surprise that their expertise shines in this sequel. From Wakanda to Talokan and the cultures, languages, and customs established within both, Coogler and his team place you on a ride through Afrofuturism and Indigenous Futurism that you’ll never want to get off.
And while they deserve their kudos, there is much credit due to Black Panther: Wakanda Forever‘s onscreen talent. Bassett, Wright, Gurira, and N’yongo give impassioned performances, with Bassett delivering one of the MCU’s most powerful monologues to date. Prepare to have the waterworks flowing as a plethora of emotions hit you. They may be actors, but it is evident that they are mourning the loss of Chadwick Boseman.
Another shoutout goes to Tenoch Huerta’s Namor. His fierce portrayal of the Sub-Mariner is one for the books. And with more MCU “big bads” coming out of the woodwork (or the ocean, in this case), he’s sure to leave a strong impression.
One thing viewers will notice instantly about this film is the shift in tone. Black Panther whisked audiences away on a whimsical, Afrofuturistic adventure that exposed everyone to Wakanda. But, this sequel oscillates between somber and humorous, while peppering in classic high octane Marvel action sequences. This seems like it would be overwhelming, but the end result creates a stellar film with grief at its epicenter.
Marvel’s WandaVision struck gold by building its story around grief. Now, lightning strikes twice with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. And while grief takes an important stage, understanding traditions and breaking from them also serve as an undercurrent within its narrative. This makes sense considering Wakanda is now open for the world to examine. Customs have the potential—and sometimes need—to change. N’yongo and Wright’s Nakia and Shuri were ambassadors for this for the first film and continue to push this mindset.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever clocks at 2 hours and 41 minutes, which means there’s plenty of time to cover numerous storylines. Yet, some of the side characters within both nations lack solid character development, which may leave viewers yearning for more. Still, their presence pushes the story along. And knowing Marvel, there’s always room to expand on these characters in other media properties.
In all, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a fantastic sequel to its predecessor, an amazing cap to Phase 4, and a beautiful tribute to Chadwick Boseman.