Marvel Studios feature film Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is finally ready to make its big screen debut on November 11. This is a significant film for a variety of reasons. The film must address the loss of King T’Challa, played by the late Chadwich Boseman, who passed away in 2020. Then the incorporation of a new underwater civilization that needs to stand apart from the underwater world. Also, the re-introduction of Letitia Wright’s Shuri. Who needs to convince audiences that she is worthy of the Black Panther mantle. Then is an overall challenge of making a Marvel Studios film that is going to stand out. This against a really lackluster Phase Four not counting Shang-Chi. So how did Black Panther: Wakanda Forever handle all these challenges?
In one simple word: masterfully.
Director Ryan Coolger shows once again why he is such an amazing filmmaker and storyteller as he navigates the many challenges that Wakanda Forever faced to tell a cohesive and impactful story. Throughout the film, you can feel the trust that he has in his cast to deliver impactful moments as well as the trust they have in him to allow their characters to venture into new roles that question their identities and purpose.
In Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, we find the nation of Wakanda having to fight and protect its nation from the intervening world powers now that they do not have a Black Panther guardian. While still mourning the passing of their beloved king, they have to fend off other countries that want to get their hands on their sacred vibranium.
The world is lusting for the precious ore. In doing so they awaken the underwater nation of Talokan, which is ruled by the mighty Namor. He warns Wakanda about the impending threat from the world’s government. Threatening to take action against Wakanda if they do not align with them to eliminate that threat. The nation of Wakanda must now come together and forge a new path for its kingdom as they find itself in the spotlight from every direction.
Now I wanted to briefly discuss some of the challenges that I mentioned above. Starting with the way they honored Chadwick Boseman.
I was nervous about how this would be handled, as I thought that it would be possible that the well-deserved praise for the actor and character could cast a huge shadow on the overall film. Coogler does a great job of acknowledging and honoring Boseman and the subsequent consequences of the loss. Throughout the film, you’re on a journey with characters that are dealing with grief in a variety of ways. Really showcases that sometimes life happens, and part of that is death and it’s ok to deal with it in different ways. Audiences will be able to feel the actors behind the characters convey their feelings about the loss of a friend.
Namor & Talokan Intro In Wakanda Forever
As a Latino, the incorporation of Mexican ancestry was an exciting prospect for me. While DC has already done an underwater civilization, this Mayan-inspired community is vastly different. Mostly because despite that it’s underwater, there is an entire nation of people that can identify with the culture that is shown on screen. It’s shown in a respectful and powerful light that should make us Mexicans proud in the same way Wakanda did for many people when it was first released in 2018.
Tenoch Huerta as Namor was the perfect fit for the role of the ruler of this nation. It was amazing to see his people go toe to toe with the now-established warriors of Wakanda showcasing how they were just equally as powerful. I applaud Coogler for showing the same care in developing Talokan as he did with Wakanda.
Shuri as the Black Panther?
The one aspect of Wakanda Forever that I thought I would really need convincing was that of Shuri taking on the mantle of the Black Panther. We had seen her in previous films really as the little sister in the shadows of T’Challa. How now could she be really the face of Wakanda, its protector?
Again, props to Coolger as it would seem to be a daunting task to take a grieving little sister into the protector of such a fierce nation. She is given time in the film to explore a cycle of feelings that stem from the loss of her brother and the current events of the film. She also has the advantage of being propelled to the top by Angela Bassett’s Queen Ramonda, her mother, as well as the rest of the talented cast that makes sure they use their characteristics to form Shuri into that pearl of a character that then can rightfully and convincingly take on the honor of being called the Black Panther.
Does Wakanda Forever get us closer to a big MCU finale?
There has been a lot of chatter from MCU fans about the many projects in Phase 4 not really feeling cohesive to a larger narrative in the Multiverse Saga. This one is no different. What is different, is that with the impactful storytelling and great performances by the cast, it doesn’t matter. You will leave the theater satisfied with the fact that Coogler and the rest of the crew delivered a film that honors a great actor and continues to grow the world of Wakanda and now Talokan. I can argue that this film and Black Panther can stand alone away from the rest of the MCU and still be just as great.
Overall I had a fantastic time at the theater with Wakanda Forever. Watching my Mexican heritage displayed on the big screen in a very respectful and powerful way. Hopefully, this will inspire more filmmakers and studios to venture farther into that world. I enjoyed the way Wakanda despite every challenge that beat them down always stood proud. Working side by side together knowing they would get through it all. This for me is one of the overall best movies Marvel Studios has put out to date. I do not envy the MCU film that comes next.
OVERALL GRADE: A
Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will open exclusively in theaters on November 11.