Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

January 18, 2023
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It’s tough to see a Black Panther movie without Chadwick Bosman, but for the most part, this franchise still seems to be on the right track.

Taking place just after the in-continuity death of King T’Challa, the MCU’s first on-screen Black Panther, due to the untimely real-world passing of Chadwick Bosman, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever skips ahead a year to deal with the fallout of a hero that meant so much to so many. Focusing on T’Challa’s technologically inclined sister and new Black Panther hopeful Shuri (Letitia Wright), his grieving mother Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), his ex-lover Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), and his right-hand warrior gal Okoye (Danai Gurira) as they navigate a world without a Black Panther, this film doesn’t shy away from the hardest part of being a hero: sacrifice. Joined by new whiz-kid Riri Willaims (Dominique Thorne) as well as the return of a few familiar faces, the people of Wakanda are soon met with a different kind of enemy in the underwater mutant king known as Namor (Tenoch Huerta Mejía), an adversary they don’t exactly have a plan to combat but need to overcome regardless.

It has to be said that this movie was always going to be a hard one to make after Chadwick’s passing. Not only did the filmmakers have a completely different story in mind before tragedy struck, but in terms of the movie we did end up getting, Chadwick’s presence — or lack thereof — casts a long shadow on the proceedings, both good and bad. And despite this fact, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever excels when directly dealing with its characters in a way that helps them move forward as people while bringing to light some interesting conversations about the idea of legacy in the superhero world.

But for all the genuinely great stuff happening from a character perspective, there’s just too much going on to make it a truly successful film otherwise. Whether it’s the script trying to make up for the loss of Chadwick as an actor and as the King of Wakanda (what I would give to see Chadwick and Namor have some of the convos Namor and Shuri have in this one), somewhat bland action sequences sprinkled throughout (the final fight leaves a lot to be desired), a few characters that are basically plot devices (looking at you Ironheart), and a few story choices involving Namor that don’t make sense (his motivations are clear, but still a little head-scratching), and the flaws of this one, while understandable, hold it back from being something better than the sum of its parts.

So while this movie can’t compare to the original for a few obvious reasons, it does just enough with what it has to make it one of the better Phase 4 MCU films released in recent memory, which is still not saying much. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever definitely misses the presence of Chadwick Bosman, but with a great new adversary in Namor, solid character development for Shuri, some plot beats that hit you right in the feels (in a good way), and the inevitable threequel may still have its work cut out for it, just not as much as this one did.

It’s tough to see a Black Panther movie without Chadwick Bosman, but for the most part, this franchise still seems to be on the right track. Taking place just after the in-continuity death of King T’Challa, the MCU’s first on-screen Black Panther, due to the untimely real-world passing of Chadwick Bosman, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever skips ahead a year to deal with the fallout of a hero that meant so much to so many. Focusing on T’Challa’s technologically inclined sister and new Black Panther hopeful Shuri (Letitia Wright), his grieving mother Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), his ex-lover Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), and his right-hand warrior gal Okoye (Danai Gurira) as they navigate a world without a Black Panther, this film doesn’t shy away from the hardest part of being a hero: sacrifice. Joined by new whiz-kid Riri Willaims (Dominique Thorne) as well as the return of a few familiar faces, the people of Wakanda are soon met with a different kind of enemy in the underwater mutant king known as Namor (Tenoch Huerta Mejía), an adversary they don’t exactly have a plan to combat but need to overcome regardless. It has to be said that this movie was always going to be a hard one to make after Chadwick’s passing. Not only did the filmmakers have a completely different story in mind before tragedy struck, but in terms of the movie we did end up getting, Chadwick’s presence — or lack thereof — casts a long shadow on the proceedings, both good and bad. And despite this fact, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever excels when directly dealing with its characters in a way that helps them move forward as people while bringing to light some interesting conversations about the idea of legacy in the superhero world. But for all the genuinely great stuff happening from a character perspective, there’s just too much going on to make it a truly successful film otherwise. Whether it’s the script trying to make up for the loss of Chadwick as an actor and as the King of Wakanda (what I would give to see Chadwick and Namor have some of the convos Namor and Shuri have in this one), somewhat bland action sequences sprinkled throughout (the final fight leaves a lot to be desired), a few characters that are basically plot devices (looking at you Ironheart), and a few story choices involving Namor that don’t make sense (his motivations are clear, but still a little head-scratching), and the flaws of this one, while understandable, hold it back from being something better than the sum of its parts. So while this movie can’t compare to the original for a few obvious reasons, it does just enough with what it has to make it one of the better Phase 4 MCU films released in recent memory, which is still not saying much. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever definitely misses the presence of Chadwick Bosman, but with a great new adversary in Namor, solid character development for Shuri, some plot beats that hit you right in the feels (in a…

7.6

Black Panther Forever

The Verdict

7.6

8

Brian is first and foremost a nerd in every way shape and form. He likes to compare himself to a black hole, consuming any and every form of entertainment unlucky enough to get caught in his gravitational pull. It's not uncommon on any given day for him to read a couple comics, settle down with a good book, watch a few movies (inside and out of the theater), catch up on his ever growing but never depleting Hulu queue, challenge himself with a few good video games, listen to any music he can get his hands on and, of course, write his heart out. He spends every waking moment dreaming up interesting and intriguing concepts and ideas that will hopefully one day inspire and entertain anyone looking for an escape from their daily lives. Graduating from Full Sail University in good old humid Florida, Brian currently lives and works in New York City and is waiting for the day when all he has to do is wake up and create something unique and new for people to enjoy. He is always in the process of writing scripts and stories and is constantly on the lookout for ways to enhance and build his creative drive. After all, life is just one big story, all that really matters is how you strive to make it the best story possible. Disclaimer: Brian does not actually have powdered green skin in case anyone was wondering. A Skrull I am not. Blame the guys at the Color Run for this one.

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