Movie Review - Marvel's Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Forever.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a 2022 superhero film directed by Ryan Coogler, written by Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole, produced by Marvel Studios, and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It is based off of various Black Panther comics by Marvel Comics. It stars Letitia Wright and Tenoch Huerta. This is the thirty-eighth project in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, being the thirtieth film. It's the sixteenth project in Phase Four as well as the sixteenth project in the Multiverse Saga. It is also the second film in the Black Panther franchise. It acts as a sequel to Black Panther, Avengers: Endgame, Thor: Love and Thunder, and She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. It will be followed by Ironheart.


"I am queen of the most powerful nation in the world and my entire family is gone! Have I not given everything?" - Queen Ramonda

Plot


After the death of King T'Challa, a grieving Wakanda is met with a flurry of new problems. As the United Nations try to converge on Wakanda, a new enemy arrives from the ocean. The Talokan, a group of super-powered water people, threaten to go to war with Wakanda after negotiations between Namor, their leader, and the leaders of Wakanda fall apart.


Somber Tone and Grief / Chadwick Boseman's Legacy / Characters / Performances / Talokan vs. Wakanda / Sequel to Black Panther / Finale to Phase Four / After-Credits / Clunkiness / CIA Plot / Missing Black Panther


This Film is Difficult


Final Thoughts and Score


The Sweet


Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a difficult film to process, because it doesn't even feel like an MCU movie. It's so hard to describe the experience that watching this movie is, but I can definitely say that it is heavy. From the opening seconds to the credits, this film is just carrying this somber, sad weight. You feel the loss. You feel the grief. You feel the pain that everyone making this movie felt. You feel the pain that the characters feel. All the emotions in this movie are real, which just gives it this sense of sadness that I've never felt in any other movie.


And, of course, this film honors Chadwick Boseman as much as it can. There are moments in this movie that are just silent. Any time it chooses to focus in on his absence, there is no noise. Ryan Coogler lets you sit in the pain and the loss. It feels right. This is a super weird comparison, but it almost feels like a funeral. And that's not to say that this film is drab and dull and unwatchable because of how sad it is, because it's not. It's still a Marvel movie. But it's such a different kind of Marvel movie because of the circumstances that this film was made under. You feel Ryan Coogler's passion for Chadwick Boseman. You feel the cast members's passion for him. You feel it all.


The story that they craft allows for some fantastic character work. I think Shuri is a standout. She is great in this movie. They give her this beautiful arc that makes sense with the character that we met in Black Panther while also making sense within the confines of the story. While she is the standout, all of the characters are pretty great here. Okoye, Nakia, Ramonda, and M'Baku all get their time to shine. Ironheart is a fun addition to this story. And Namor is a formidable villain that can be likable and charming and also be terrifying and psychotic when he needs to be.


This film probably has the best overall acting in the MCU. The performances here are real. The emotions they are displaying are real. Scenes where the characters break down in grief are true, raw emotions that these actors are displaying. Angela Bassett is the one that everyone is talking about, and she is fantastic, but I thought that Letitia Wright was just as good. Tenoch Huerta is also amazing as Namor. While he doesn't have the emotion that the rest of the actors have, he's just the perfect balance of charming and menacing. Overall though, the performances are just breathtaking.


The story of the war between the Talokan and the Wakandans is just cool. Namor has a big rivalry with Wakanda in the comics, and I thought it was awesome that we got to see it on screen. You can see the version of this film with Chadwick Boseman in it, which makes it all the more devastating, because this isn't the sequel to Black Panther that we want. I would've loved to see T'Challa take on Namor. I would've loved to have just a fun, entertaining follow-up to a great first film. But this movie has to be what it is. There is no other way that Coogler and co. could've made this film. And it's so sad that these are the circumstances it had to be under.


Backing off of what I just said, you can see the version of this movie that would've happened if T'Challa was in it. And Ryan Coogler has said that he kept a lot of the elements that were in his original script for the film. Which means that this is a really good sequel to Black Panther. I was so focused on how this film was going to honor Boseman that I didn't even really think about the fact that this is Black Panther 2. There are plotlines and characters set up in that first film that end up here. They really do a great job of being a sequel to Black Panther, which I appreciated.


This movie is also a return to form for the MCU. Phase Four is not great. The movies and shows have fallen victim to being too goofy or having too much CGI. Wakanda Forever feels like an Infinity Saga movie, and I mean that in the best way possible. There's humor. There's CGI. But it doesn't overtake the film. It feels like a classic MCU movie that takes itself seriously and delivers a compelling story with great characters.


And this film has, by far, the best after-credits scene in MCU history. It's not a tease for the future. It's not some big cameo. It's very much in line with the rest of the film. It's sad. It's honoring Chadwick Boseman. But it's also uplifting. It's a powerful scene that will send goosebumps down your spine. I loved it.


The Sour


While Wakanda Forever does a lot of things right, it is not a perfect movie.


To start, the plot is clunky. There are a lot of things going on at a lot of different places with a lot of different characters. Okoye is a major, major character for the first half of the film and then kind of blends into the background for the rest of the movie. The movie takes a while to decide who the protagonist is. It just hops around a lot, which can make the film seem a little bloated at times.


They also bring back Martin Freeman's Agent Ross from the first film. And his role feels largely unnecessary. He gets a whole subplot that could be cut from the film and not have any impact on the overall story. I think if you eliminate him and his little adventure on the side, the story would work a little better and you also cut down the runtime by a significant amount. Any time that it cuts back to him, it slows the momentum of the film down as you are just waiting to get back to Wakanda.


And, while I wholly understand the route that they took to honor Boseman and to tell a story of grieving characters inside of a grieving country, it feels like a majority of the movie suffers from a lack of Black Panther. I cannot say who takes the mantle of the Black Panther, but they do not take the mantle until the third act of the film. While the lead up and first appearance of Black Panther is awesome, the first two-thirds of this movie really misses the presence of Wakanda's protector. It makes sense that they would take their time to get a new Black Panther, but it really feels like this movie could've used some more of the titular character.


This Film is Difficult


This is not a negative. This is not a positive. This is me describing my feelings towards Wakanda Forever. It is a difficult movie. We lost Chadwick Boseman in real life, and we now have to lose T'Challa in the MCU. That's what this film is. It feels like a heartfelt goodbye to Boseman and T'Challa. And, because of that, it's just a difficult film. If you're going into this expecting a typical, fun MCU movie, that is not Wakanda Forever. It will stick with you. You will feel the pain of Chadwick Boseman's loss. And that's what it's meant to do. Like I said before, this is not the Black Panther sequel that you'd want, but we can't get the Black Panther sequel that we'd want, because Chadwick Boseman is gone. So we have this beautiful, heart-breaking goodbye to him and his iconic character that is just a lot to process. It's unlike any movie in the MCU. It's unlike any superhero movie. It's just a difficult film, and I do not mean that in a bad way at all. But understand that going into it. It is not an easy watch.


Final Thoughts and Score


Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a cathartic tribute to Chadwick Boseman that has heavy, heavy emotions and a gripping story of broken people fighting to keep their country together. It's not easy to process. It's a very sad film. But it is the Black Panther sequel we needed.


I will go Savory here. Age range is 12+.


SWEET N' SOUR SCALE

Sweet (Great) Savory (Good) Sour (Bad) Moldy (Terrible)


"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever"


Fun Factor: 7.5/10 Acting: 9/10

Story: 8/10

Characters: 9/10 Quality: 8.5/10


Directed by Ryan Coogler


Rated PG-13 for moderate violence and action, intense and emotional themes and images, language, disturbing themes and images, thematic elements


Released on November 11, 2022


2 hours and 41 minutes


Letitia Wright as Shuri

Tenoch Huerta as Namor the Sub-Mariner

Angela Bassett as Queen Ramonda

Danai Gurira as Okoye

Lupita Nyong'o as Nakia

Winston Duke as M'Baku

Dominique Thorne as Riri Williams / Ironheart

Martin Freeman as Everett K. Ross

Florence Kasumba as Ayo

Michaela Coel as Aneka

Mabel Cadena as Namora

Alex Livinalli as Attuma