Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
review by Bobby Blakey
When the late Chadwick Boseman made his debut as T’Challa aka Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War his presence was instantly felt on screen. When he finally hit theaters in 2018 in the Black Panther solo outing it changed the game. Sadly his passing left not only a hole in the entertainment world and to those around him it created an issue with the planned sequel and if it would happen or not. Director Ryan Coogler took to the impossible challenge and has found a way to keep the story of T’Challa’s kingdom alive in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, but does it deliver the emotion and action fans are hoping for while honoring Boseman or will it not be fit for a king?
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever follows Queen Ramonda, Shuri, M’Baku, Okoye and the Dora Milaje as they fight to protect their nation from intervening world powers in the wake of King T’Challa’s death. As the Wakandans strive to embrace their next chapter, the heroes must band together with the help of War Dog Nakia and Everett Ross and forge a new path for the kingdom of Wakanda. The film feature the return of Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Florence Kasumba and Michaela Coel along with newcomers Tenoch Huerta and Dominique Thorne.
Phase 4 of the MCU has been pretty hit and miss with fans. I have enjoyed every film, but there are elements that didn’t always work for me. I have always loved the Black Panther character and the first film is on the top tier of favorite Marvel films for me. I also love Namor and seeing him make his big screen debut had me all sorts of excited so it goes without saying that I was really eager to check this one out. Sitting at almost three hours the film does once again what the original film did which is to infuse culture into a
superhero flick, but this time around a much deeper emotionally driven film.
Right out the gate we have to deal with the loss of Boseman in the real world
and the loss of T’Challa on screen. I admit I am one that really thought they should have recast the role and still do as there are just so many great stories to tell, but I also respect them for not doing so. They respectfully deal with it in a simple way that makes sense and honors both actor and character legacy. This also sets the ground work for the journey that all these characters have to go on to accept and deal with the loss. I felt like the funeral sequence you see in the trailers was not only perfect for the film, but in some special way like the audience is getting their own chance to attend the funeral of Boseman as well in a spiritual sense. Getting to say goodbye and express whatever emotion you may need and Marvel went out of their way to showcase both.
Outside of the concern of dealing with no T’Challa I would be lying if I didn’t say I was concerned with the amount of characters getting infused and worrying it would be getting too bogged down. Thankfully for the most part this wasn’t the case and it justified the long run time to allow all the story elements to play out and not feel rushed. Outside of Namor I am choosing to not mention any of the other players that show up even if everyone knows so that those that don’t can experience for themselves. Everyone here brought their A game and really gave it that heart break and depth it needed to tell this story while still not forgetting to give the fans the action and fun they want.
This isn’t an action heavy film, but have no fear there is plenty here. Much like most comics this isn’t just building to the next fight, but instead is trying to lead these character to forgiveness, acceptance, grief and everything else you can imagine on all sides. Everyone is great, but first and foremost was Angela Bassett who stepped in to bring her always powerful presence to the role of Queen and easily one of the best of the film. When she speaks you feel her passion, pain and you know she is Wakanda. Everyone gives strong powerful performances and are given a lot to do that made it feel like more of an ensemble as it should while still keeping the kingdom front and center.
I could go into everyone here, but they are all great so I want to focus more on both new actor and character the MCU, Tenoch Huerta as Namor. He knocked it out of the park bringing the cocky swagger to the character that is seemingly sympathetic and understanding, but at the same time savage and fearless. The choice to go with a more Aztec theme for the character and his people was pure genius. I know it doesn’t fit the comic accuracy, but helps to not only distance it from the world of Aquaman and more importantly bring yet more culture and a whole new set of people represented.
The movies is visually stunning and beautiful filled with bright vibrant colors and sequences both above and below the oceans. This film felt bigger and better than its predecessor and much like Ragnarok offered ways to expand and change up the world of Wakanda. If I had any issues it comes in the MCU connecting element of the film. There is a whole story bringing back Martin Freeman, who we see in the trailer so no surprise, that kind of felt shoehorned in to me just to connect it to the past and future projects. It is fine and doesn’t hurt the film, but took me out of the more powerful elements that were on display for some scenes that just felt out of place.
Everyone has their favorites, but for me both Black Panther films rise to the top of the list. I loved this film on almost every level and was so happy in the direction director Coogler took the story and allowing it to just exist. There are a lot of fans that will find themselves finding closure themselves through this film and that just showcases the power it represents. Of course there are surprises and only one mid-credit sequence that is simple, but effective and could potentially change the game for the future of Wakanda itself.
In addition to the film this release offers up bonus content including a gag reel, commentary, deleted scenes, featurettes and more. They are bringing not only the standard release but a couple of offerings including two limited-edition SteelBook® designs only at Best Buy. Artist Dorothea Taylor designed one SteelBook that highlights the Wakanda warriors and Orlando Arocena recreated the vibrant world of Talokan for the other as well as a Walmart exclusive 4K Ultra HD edition with custom artwork and a limited-edition Black Panther enamel pin.
Return to the kingdom and grab your copy of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever avalable now on digital, 4K, Blu-ray and DVD from Marvel Studios.