This sequel to Black Panther might have had the most challenging road to the silver screen, with the death of its main protagonist T’Challa portrayed by Chadwick Boseman and the pandemic, it had to be reworked and shaped into an entertaining blockbuster that moved the MCU forward without ignoring the passing of Boseman. Did they do it? And what is this movie about?
Premise: Queen Ramonda, Shuri, M’Baku, Okoye and the Dora Milaje fight to protect the kingdom of Wakanda from intervening world powers in the wake of King T’Challa’s death. As the Wakandans strive to embrace their next chapter, the heroes must band together with the help of War Dog Nakia and Everett Ross and forge a new path for their nation.
Review: One of the main things I feel can be said about both Black Panther movies, is that they are about new beginnings. There are very similar in that way, the first one was about T’Challa stepping into his new role as the king of an underestimated nation, and Wakanda Forever is about the nation itself and its people discovering or reaffirming who they are, and/or want to be without their leader and protector in the ever-increasing pressure of the world’s gaze upon them.
The stakes here are higher because the threats are coming from all sides. Wakanda has revealed itself to be a world superpower overnight and the old regime, meaning the countries that were or want to be in that position, are poking at its defenses, looking for weaknesses to strike and seize all the resources that make Wakanda the world power that it is. That very threat not only teaches us a bit of real-world history but is very much felt throughout this movie, and that’s where the characters’ growth and evolution revolve around, the response to the situation they’re in.
I’m not saying that this movie is a geopolitical thriller, which it kind of is, but not in the typical way like Captain America: The Winter Soldier was, given how personal and focused on the country of Wakanda the movie is. Queen Ramonda, Shuri, M’Baku, Nakia, Okoye and the Dora Milaje all step up. From the trailers alone you can see that Queen Ramonda is chewing scenery she is amazing; Nakia is shown to be more of spy here than the first movie giving us an idea of how the Wakanda’s War Dogs operate; Okoye is on quite the emotional journey as is everyone but she has a great scene with Queen Ramonda that’s amazing; M’Baku seems to be growing into a big brother to Shuri, who is deep into a her grief but whose showing an edge that makes perfect sense for the character we’ve seen in Black Panther, Infinity War, and Endgame.
As for the action scenes, they’re good, exciting, and smart, yet to me the overall feel of the film doesn’t necessarily make those moments the high points of this movie. The quiet moments and little details of this movie are much more thrilling. Coogler makes a movie that has all the elements of a political thriller about grief and it’s amazing.
Namor and the Talokans are well established here, another reason why Wakanda Forever feels like a new beginning, we’re discovering who they are and some of what they can do in this movie. Namor has many great moments and action scenes but his first interaction is boss, his motivations are clear and sharp. Tenoch Huerta is both menacing and sweet at times and he flawlessly navigates all that. Like the Wakandans the Talokans feel small at first but they are mighty, they become a genuine threat and they seem to be able to do some impressive things.
As good as this movie is it’s not perfect, it’s a long movie, which I didn’t feel, but it is still rushed at times. Talokan is shot in a maybe too real way when Wakanda was introduced as a real fairytale so that contrast is a bit real. The focus on the Wakandan is a bit too spread out, as good as the actors were, it might have been one character’s grief journey too many. And the last battle starts big but very quickly feels small – I didn’t say intimate.
Wakanda Forever has an interesting plot, lot of actions, and great emotional moments. It makes clear to me why Armor Wars was turned into the movie.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hits theaters worldwide starting the 9th of November 2022