After the passing of Chadwick Boseman’s in 2020, fans of the Marvel franchise could not help but wonder where Black Panther’s story will pick up and how. However, the main question that the sequel film begs to answer is, ‘why should one even try to pick the pieces back up?’. It is a glaring concern that most often comes after having to go through a sudden loss of a loved one.
Thankfully, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is graceful in its response.
The movie opens with the crushing and sudden death of T’Challa, who – as fans know – holds the seat on the Wakandan throne and also wears the helm of the titular Black Panther. His kingdom then continues to face perils that lead them to their biggest enemy yet: Namor, or the Kukulkan. Together with him is his underwater empire that also harnesses Vibranium that dates to the Mesoamerican era.
Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole, and the entire cast and crew pieced together a devastatingly beautiful new lore. One that pays respect to T’Challa and his unforgettable legacy without overpowering the story. Instead, fans follow the stages of grief and healing of a kingdom, a mother, and a sister as they battle against external forces that threaten their fragile and crumbling state. The sequel ultimately paints a flawed yet humanized origin story to the new Black Panther.
Shuri, T’Challa’s usually upbeat younger sister, and the depth of her narrative are commendable in this and deserve special mentions. After all, developing a character within near three hours is one of the hardest things to execute for any storyline. Her journey from her pain to recovery is impeccable. Letitia Wright thrusts herself into the spotlight for presenting fans a powerful and heart-wrenching performance.
M’Baku, as well, needs an honorable mention. Fans are given another dimension to his normally barbaric personality, one quite endearing as he tries to be the next brother-figure to Shuri. It comes as a surprise that he is also a very wise leader. Winston Duke has done a stellar job in his act.
However, as with everything, the film is not perfect. Writers certainly missed the chance to form a deeper bond between Shuri and Riri Williams, a.k.a. Ironheart, portrayed by the talented Dominique Thorne. Additionally, there are plot points that could have been full-blown arcs but are left in the air instead, such as the animosity between Wakanda and U.N. as well as Wakanda and the U.S. Government. Fans can only hope that these points of conflict are addressed in the future as Marvel further expands its world-building in the coming years.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is an emotionally charged masterpiece. Underneath its superhero facade is its haunting relatability. The movie’s depiction of why and how these characters act as they go through the motions of loss and acceptance makes it one of the must-watch MCU films to date. Catch it starting November 9, 2022, in cinemas.
Do not forget to hug your family and friends today.