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Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – Movie Review
November 11, 2022

Synopsis: The people of Wakanda fight to protect their home from intervening world powers as they mourn the death of King T’Challa.
Director: Ryan Coogler
Stars: Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Tenoch Huerta

Gone but not forgotten is the feeling that echoes throughout Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The sentiment is directed towards Chadwick Boseman, who made the role of The King of Wakanda famous.

When the teaser trailer for this film came out several months ago, I don’t mind telling you that I was wiping away tears at the end of it. How could you not? An image of Boseman pops up, and you can’t help but think of this outstanding actor and human who was taken from the world way before his time.

Chadwick Boseman played a character like he had done many times before and a few times after, but this role was different. This character was iconic for many reasons, including the fact that people in the Black community finally felt they were being represented in a superhero movie.

The film also opened the doors for Marvel Studios to have characters from other ethnic backgrounds represented on screen.

In many reviews, I have spoken about this. Whether it’s Black Panther, Crazy Rich Asians, or Parasite (the list continues), people want to see themselves on screen.

In 2018, Black Panther was a phenomenon. People, who don’t usually go to the movies, showed up on mass to see this figure come to life on the big screen. A Black superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? This was huge. The credit scene at the end of Captain America: Civil War that even hinted that this was the direction Marvel was going sent theatre-goers into a mild frenzy.

Black Panther made over $1 billion globally. It was the biggest standalone Marvel movie until Spider Man: No Way Home. 

The widely successful Black Panther was the only Marvel film to win any Academy Awards. It was nominated for seven awards, including Best Picture, and won three. No other Marvel film has ever been nominated for Best Picture.

After Chadwick Boseman passed away suddenly from cancer in 2020, questions arose as to whether or not the franchise should continue. There are many opinions on that. Some felt that it shouldn’t, and some thought it should. Some talked about recasting. ‘How many Supermen have there been? How many Spidermen? Just recast it?’

For director Ryan Coogler, who helmed the first project and was a friend of Boseman’s, that wasn’t an easy decision, but eventually, the sequel was a go. Now, deciding to make the film is one thing but more important was to make a film honouring Boseman’s memory and enhancing the story.

The film starts by dealing with T’Challa (Boseman’s character) and cleverly addresses what happened to the king before it moves on. The film does a phenomenal job showing the grief T’Challa’s loss has on his mother, sister, and Wakanda as a whole. Fiction blends with reality as the opening is a true homage. Without giving anything away, Marvel had me tearing up with its exceptional honour to Boseman.

The world wants Vibranium, the resource plentiful in Wakanda that can be used for good and evil. Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) is letting the United Nations know that Wakanda is not to be trifled with—Ok, she may have used different words, but that’s the gist.

If you’re looking for a movie with powerful women, look no further than Wakanda Forever. Letitia Wright is back as Shuri, T’Challa’s stubborn but brilliant sister. Shuri doesn’t spend time looking for someone to help her; she is very good at figuring things out for herself. We saw this in her previous appearances in Black Panther, but we get a stern reminder in this film. Lupital Nyong’o is back as Nakia, the love interest of T’Chala and a close confidante of the royal family.

Angela Bassett reminds us exactly who she is; an actress who can deliver great performances. She could be regarded as the elder stateswoman on set, but it’s as if she is saying, ‘hold my bee…’ wait, this is Angela Bassett ‘…hold my expensive glass of champagne and let me remind you of who I am.’ She has some very powerful moments in the film as Queen Ramonda.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Winston Duke, fellow Trinidadian (I’m a proud Canadian but my parts come from Trinidad). His character M’Baku has developed very nicely in the Marvel Cinema Universe, and the movie wouldn’t be the same without his character’s presence. Danai Gurira (The Walking Dead) is great in the film. Not only is she the leader of The Wakanda army, but brings some needed comedy to the film. I especially liked when she regarded a very popular piece of technology that we are familiar with as ‘primitive.’

A superhero movie is enhanced by its villain, and this film has a fantastic villain in Tenoch Huerta, who plays Namor, a very powerful and legit threat to Wakanda. Huerta does a fantastic job in this role and has quickly established this character as one of the top Marvel villains.

This film is clearly an honour to Boseman, but it is also a Marvel film. This is a big-budget, big-action film, and it delivers. With a run time of 144 minutes, the first act is action-heavy as the story develops. The second act seemed to slow down, but it really builds towards a powerful third act.

I don’t take issue with the length. This is a massive film, and the length is justified. Could it have been shorter? Marginally, but this couldn’t be a two-hour film.

In typical Marvel review fashion, I don’t want to say too much. The story is effective and engaging; it is a beautiful tribute to Boseman and a fantastic movie — the best Marvel movie since Avengers Endgame. The film plays well on an IMAX screen; many scenes take advantage of this technology to make it worth the upgrade.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this film. The cinematography is great, with beautiful locations used to enhance the movie. Autumn Durald Arkapaw has shot a great film. The gorgeous sets are underlined by a strong score by Ludwig Goransson. Ruth E. Carter, who already won an Academy Award for Costume Design for the first film, is back with more wonderful attire for the characters to wear. There are some good comedic moments to balance out the serious ones and the story flows.

Coogler, who wrote the story and co-wrote the screenplay with Joe Robert Cole has successfully navigated through the loss of his lead actor, paid homage to him, and effectively moved the story along. I am sure that wasn’t an easy feat, and he deserves recognition for that.

In a time where you can really wait a few weeks after a movie is released theatrically before it shows up on your streaming service Black Panther: Wakanda Forever should be seen on a big screen. There is nothing ‘mailed in’ about this movie and with all the expectations that were put on this film, it delivers.

Grade: B+

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