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Movie Review: “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” (2022)

Charlene is a Film and Television major. She is a big fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Disney, and Stranger Things.

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” (2022)

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” (2022)

Quick Info

Director

Ryan Coogler

Production

Marvel Studios

Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Released

November 11, 2022

Runtime

161 minutes

Genre

Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-fi

Starring

Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, Winston Duke, Florence Kasumba, Dominique Thorne, Michaela Coel, Tenoch Huerta, Martin Freeman, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Angela Bassett

Summary

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever follows the people of Wakanda as they fight to protect their country due to the emergence of Namor and the underwater city of Talokan.

Review

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever starts right from T’Challa’s death, as he dies from an undisclosed illness. The movie explores the ways in which the characters grieve, mostly from Shuri’s perspective. I also appreciate the Marvel Studios opening paying a tribute to Chadwick Boseman. I expected that to happen, but not hearing music over it makes it all the more saddening. How the movie honors Chadwick Boseman and his character of T’Challa is beautifully done.

Shuri is Emotional Heart of Film

Shuri has significantly more screentime in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, making her the protagonist of this film. She also has more emotional depth. I can only imagine how daunting it was for Letitia Wright to carry the story of the film when she previously had less screentime in the MCU.

Fortunately, she manages to pull her role off and express the emotions of Shuri thoroughly. Shuri feels responsible for T’Challa’s death because she is unable to synthetically recreate the heart-shaped herb. Shuri also unexpectedly loses her mother, Ramonda, in this film, leaving her as the only surviving member of her immediate family.

Even after Ramonda’s heartbreaking death, she isn’t mentioned as much as T’Challa, though I understand that the constant mentioning of T’Challa’s death is due to the real-life passing of Chadwick Boseman. Although her death isn’t mentioned as much, it does lead to Shuri wanting to avenge her mother in the story.

Namor is Compelling Villain

I like the turn that Shuri takes with this. She becomes committed to killing Namor, and even I myself was hoping that she would go through it as I watched the film. However, while she attempts to murder him, she chooses to spare his life instead, which makes me wonder whether or not he is set to appear in future MCU films.

I like Namor as a villain; he is compelling. He has exceptional strength and an army that evokes fear both in and out of water. At times during the film, I felt that he was a bit overpowered. However, his vulnerabilities are also shown, helping to firmly establish him as someone to potentially care for. I even felt bad for him when Shuri cut one of his wings off. He has an impressive backstory, and he provides realistic motivations that explain his intimidating actions. He is probably one of the best parts of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

Tenoch Huerta (Namor) in "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" (2022)

Tenoch Huerta (Namor) in "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" (2022)

Along with Namor as the villain, the villain of the previous Black Panther movie, Killmonger, makes a surprising cameo appearance. Killmonger is often seen as one of the best villains of the MCU, and with the release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, it seems that the Black Panther movies have a trend of developing engaging villains.

Killmonger Makes Cameo

Although Killmonger’s role in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is only small, it is necessary. Shuri only consumes the herb because of her desire to kill Namor as revenge. The only other family member or relative in the Ancestral Plane who would encourage her to seek revenge would be Killmonger.

She denies wanting to have seen him, and she even refuses to tell other people about her encounter with him. This scene indirectly shows that her desire for vengeance makes her have somewhat of a similar mindset as him, and I think the commentary on this is clever.

I already love Riri as a character, though I wish she was given more of a personality. She is only presented as someone whose intelligence is reminiscent of Tony Stark’s. I know that Riri is supposed to have her own show in the future, Ironheart, but her first appearance in the MCU is a little less than fulfilling.

Riri Underdeveloped

Her character is shoehorned into the plot. However, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever still does enough in making me excited for Ironheart, especially since she goes on an adventure with Iron Man-like suits.

Despite all the movie’s positives, the story is a bit dry. There aren’t many scenes with Everett Ross, but whenever he does appear on screen, he serves little to no purpose to the story. His subplot implies that the United States plans to intervene with Wakandan affairs, but this expected event does not happen and is largely ignored. Although there is a lot of world-building when it comes to the city of Talokan, it is, in a lot of ways, one-dimensional.

Beyond the story and its characters, there is still more to praise. Although Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is not exactly a visually mesmerizing film, it still has breathtaking production design and underwater scenes. The pacing is also just right. It does not feel like a film that is 161 minutes long.

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” (2022)

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” (2022)

Is It Worth a Watch?

Although the movie has somewhat of an underwhelming story, I still recommend this movie for anyone who likes the MCU. It overall has a lot of good to offer. The characters are the main highlights, but there are also some solid action scenes and fascinating revelations.

For anyone who may not be interested in the MCU, this movie has little connection with the wider MCU. There are obvious mentions of T’Challa’s character arc from past films, but other than that, the movie is self-contained. This means that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever can be watched without needing to understand other projects of the fourth phase.

Rating

Interesting Facts

  • Production of the movie was halted for a few months when Letitia Wright sustained an on-set injury.
  • The actress of the Merchant Tribe Elder, Dorothy Steel, died on October 15, 2021, when the movie was still in production. The Marvel franchise let her spend her final days with her family and friends.
  • Tenoch Huerta had to learn how to swim in order to prepare for the role of Namor.
  • Ryan Coogler thought about quitting directing after the death of Chadwick Boseman, and he also mentioned that making the film without Boseman was the hardest part of his professional career.
  • The script originally focused on T’Challa after the events of Avengers: Endgame. He would have dealt with the effects of being gone for five years.