Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – Film Review
by Katie McCann
Director – Ryan Coogler
Writers – Ryan Coogler (screenplay by), Joe Robert Cole (screenplay by)
Stars – Tenoch Huerta, Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett
What is Black Panther without Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa? That is the question that Wakanda Forever is trying to answer. After Boseman’s sudden death two years ago from cancer, the future of Black Panter was thrown into question. Who could possibly step into his shoes when he holds such an important place in Marvel Fandom? How do you recast a character like T’Challa when the actor playing him is so intrinsically linked? The answer is you don’t, and so begins Wakanda Forever in a cloud of grief and loss that hangs over the rest of the film.
One year after T’Challa’s death we find Wakanda, now a matriarchy, facing enemies on multiple fronts. Multiple nations are trying to get their hands on Wakanda’s Vibranium and in their hunt have managed to inadvertently disturb the underwater city of Tālocān. As you might have guessed this was a big mistake as these sea people will do anything to protect their way of life from those above water. The machinery used to locate this Vibranium was developed by tech protege Riri Williams (Ironheart to those in the know) who is now enemy number one and the only one who can protect her is Princess Shuri ( Letitia Wright). Shuri must step in (and step up), in order to keep Riri and her nation safe but, in the process, she must also wrestle with her own place in the world while facing off against Tālocān’s mythical leader, Namor (Tenoch Huerta).
What is refreshing about the Black Panther series is that it is constantly dealing with issues bigger than just the same old good guy vs bad guy you get in any superhero movie. Namor, like Killmonger before him, has quite a good reason to be as pissed off at the world as he is. A descendant of the Mian people of South America he watched his kin be enslaved and murdered by colonisers and wants his people to be left alone. Not an unreasonable request, right? But what price are you willing to pay for peace? And is peace really what he wants or is it total annihilation of all other countries on earth?
Wakanda Forever holds true to the legacy it has created and, as with its first instalment, poses some big and difficult questions for its audience around grief, legacy and colonization. While, like most Marvel films, it is slightly on the long side it is a fun and exciting watch, which is what you want from a Marvel film, right? Wakanda Forever manages to forge its own path in the face of grief and boasts a star-making performance from Letitia Wright. It is a fitting and beautiful tribute to the life and legacy of Chadwich Boseman as well as a solid contribution to the MCU.