‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever:’ A poignant and thrilling sequel


When “Black Panther” was released in 2018, it was a worldwide hit; it was universally loved and broke boundaries for superhero filmmaking. It achieved a rare feat for blockbusters, being a commercial, critical, and cultural phenomenon that truly redefined the genre, led by Chadwick Boseman as the titular hero, King T’Challa. Boseman brought poise, wisdom, and strength to a role that had never been translated to the big screen before him. An unforeseen challenge arose when Boseman tragically passed in 2020 from colon cancer, which he had been battling for several years. “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is haunted by the loss of Chadwick Boseman and his character, and ultimately acts as a poignant tribute to the first Black Panther. “Wakanda Forever” is an emotional, triumphant journey, acting as one of the strongest marvel films in the last few years.

Firstly, “Wakanda Forever” is incredibly well-made from a technical standpoint. The cinematography is gorgeous, and the special effects are vastly better than some other recent Marvel projects, making the visually stunning scenes also feel real and immersive. The music, too, in this film is great, as composer Ludwig Gorannsson returned after the first Black Panther film and delivered another impressive score.

“Wakanda Forever” follows a plot that is vastly different from most other Marvel entries, helping it feel unique and original in its nature. The movie follows those closest to the late T’Challa–his sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright,) his mother, Queen Ramonda (Angela Basset,) and his bodyguard/general, Okoye (Danai Gurira)–as they struggle to maintain Wakanda’s strength and sovereignty as a world power while also keeping T’Challa’s peaceful and generous values. Shuri, specifically, receives a lot of focus as she tries to find her place in a turmoil-filled nation, while sinister, unknown threats rise from the deep, led by the mysterious King Namor (Tenoch Huerta.) Along their journey, many other returning characters join Shuri and the others, including M’Baku (Winston Duke,) Everett Ross (Martin Freeman,) and a new hero, Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne.)

One of “Wakanda Forever”‘s greatest assets is the strength of its characters, illuminated by stunning performances from every member of the cast. Angela Basset gives a stunningly compelling and emotional turn as Queen Ramonda, with Letitia Wright and Danai Gurira also giving standout performances. Additionally, Lupita Nyong’o was very memorable as Nakia, as the film features many strong female characters, and in turn, performances. Many critics were skeptical of how this film would handle the Black Panther mantle and keeping a compelling hero after Boseman’s passing, as he left a huge whole in the world of Wakanda. However, director Ryan Coogler and screenwriter Joe Robert Cole proved more than enough to undertake this challenge, successfully putting characters like Shuri and Okoye into the spotlight more in order to keep the Black Panther as a cornerstone of the current state of the Marvel universe. Shuri herself enjoys an amazing arc in this movie, adding emotional depth and nuance to her character while keeping her as confident and sharp-tongued as she was in previous films. The characters of “Wakanda Forever” keep the dramatic stakes high for the whole runtime.

The only reasonable complaint that many have leveled against Wakanda Forever is that, at times, it feels drawn-out and tedious. The film is indeed very long, clocking in at around 2 hours and 40 minutes. Some scenes do feel unnecessarily long or complicated, and there are some subplots that could be cut altogether without changing the overall plot, which is never a good sign. However, these “boring” scenes help build on the themes of grief and acceptance that “Wakanda Forever” executes so well, which forgives most, if not all, mistakes made in getting these scenes together. While it can feel drawn-out at times, these scenes warrant inclusion in order to flesh out the film’s characters and their thematic arcs.

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is one of the best Marvel films in recent years, and one of the best superhero sequels overall, drawing on thematic ideas and strong characters to craft a compelling and visually stunning narrative.