Following the death of Chadwick Boseman, fans of the franchise were unsure of how the movies would move forward. But Black Panther is back with Wakanda Forever and it is more than just another heroic tale.
Writer/Director Ryan Coogler rightfully honours the late actor and ushers in a new chapter for the franchise. He had to rewrite the script after Boseman's untimely passing and he did so masterfully by focusing on characters, like M'Baku, Nakia, and Okoye, as well as introducing a mix of new characters such as Namor, Riri Williams, and Namora.
And the cast of extremely talented actors deliver!
The plot is complex. The film emphasises both on how to come to terms with T'Challa's death, and the ongoing battle between the Wakandans and the Atlanteans.
The quality of Wakanda Forever's storytelling varies somewhat. The movie gets off to a powerful start with a touching tribute to Boseman, the loss of the actor and the character is felt strongly throughout the entire movie.
Shuri (Letitia Wright), despite her prowess as a scientist, struggles with her inability to save her brother. Ramonda, on the other hand, must strike a balance between comforting her daughter and safeguarding her nation from both internal and external enemies.
Act three, however, is not as strong as the first two. The third act follows the typical Marvel formula: a lot of fights are taking place in several places and generally there is a lot happening simultaneously.
When you stop to think about it, the location of the fights were kind of ridiculous. But despite these shortcomings, it does not take away from the overall experience.
At two hours and 41 minutes, it is a lengthy movie. However, it is tightly paced and, because the story focuses on so many characters, the length feels justified.
It is not a gloomy affair in its entirety though; Coogler included plenty of amusing one-liners throughout the movie and also takes a few jabs at the AVATAR saga, which will be returning to theatres soon.
The track record of the quality of CGI in Marvel movies are inconsistent, and Wakanda Forever is right on brand. There are breathtaking shots of underwater cities and landscapes, yet the CGI struggles in some action sequences.
Surprisingly, not a lot of non-MCU content is included in the movie. The outside world and various agencies are seeking to manage Wakanda through bureaucracy, but beyond that, it is mostly a self-contained story. These moments felt somewhat forced but speculating from the hints, we could be seeing a US/World vs. Wakanda narrative in the future.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever lacks a real 'villain'. Tenoch Huerta's portrayal as Namor is nothing short of amazing. He is fierce and intimidating, yet his concerns about the outside world are also immensely understandable and rational.
At the end of the day, Namor is there to protect his people; he is not a cartoonish moustache-twirling villain. Even if you support the Wakandans in this situation, it is very simple to understand why Namor acted the way he did. He has some of the best-written and most engaging scenes in the movie with Shuri.
Angela Bassett's portrayal as Queen Ramonda was spectacular! She showed a masterclass in rage, grief, and leadership. Her scenes in the trailers were just the tip of the iceberg. Danai Gurira as General Okoye also has a lot more to deal with, she was Shuri's defender, the commander of the Wakandan army, and had to deal with T'Challa's passing in own way.
The representation in the film is also a noteworthy mention. What the first film did for black people around the world – gave them a hero they could identify with and root for – Wakanda Forever does the same for Central and Latin American people, it gave them the Atlanteans.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever accomplishes something that many did not deem feasible. It honours Boseman and T'Challa, and somehow manages to usher in a new era in the franchise.