The Black Panther, played by the late Chadwick Boseman, first made his MCU appearance in the 2016 film, Captain America: Civil War, seeking vengeance for the murder of his father, King T’Chaka (John Kani). He was seen again in his 2018 solo film, Black Panther, which was a huge hit and the Black Panther became a role model for fans everywhere. A sequel was already in the works when Chadwick Boseman sadly passed away in August of 2020. Two years later, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was released as a tribute to the former Black Panther and follows the journey of his sister, Princess Shuri (Letitia Wright), as she deals with her losses and takes on her role as the new protector of Wakanda.
I’m not crying, it’s just dusty in here.
The movie begins with Shuri working in her lab, sirens blaring in the background, as she attempts to recreate the heart shaped herb needed to save King T’Challa from an undisclosed illness. Sadly, she is unsuccessful in her efforts and her brother dies. This scene is followed with a moment of silence as a montage of Chadwick’s images are shown in the Marvel Studios opening, and an all white funeral procession fit for a king.
This opening is one that was expected, yet still a tear jerker to see. Everything about it was absolutely beautiful and a wonderful execution of a tribute to both Chadwick and the Black Panther. Thankfully, this was not the only scene that left me in awe.
The story moves forward to one year after T’Challa’s death, his mother, Ramonda (Angela Bassett), has once again become Queen of Wakanda and is struggling with other countries trying to steal vibranium and use its power for their own benefit. Their attempts fail of course, and it was more than satisfying to see the Dora Milaje, led by Okoye (Danai Gurira), take care of the assailants in their Wakandan outreach center without even breaking a sweat.
Performances of a lifetime
One of the most heartbreaking lines of the entire film comes after a mission gone wrong. Okoye insisted that she bring Shuri along to find out who the “scientist” who built a vibranium detecting machine for the CIA is. They find her, but before they can return to Wakanda they are intercepted by the FBI and a few Talokan warriors, who take Shuri and the scientist, Riri (Dominique Thorne), to their underwater kingdom. Okoye returns alone and tries to seek redemption by requesting to go out and rescue Shuri immediately, but Queen Ramonda strips Okoye of her title and her role in the Dora Milaje instead. Okoye pleads with her saying, “I have given everything.” Queen Ramonda responds with “I am queen of the most powerful nation in the world! And my entire family is gone! Have I not given everything?!”
I had heard that line numerous times in trailers, but I still got goosebumps after hearing this in the theater. Angela Bassett put her heart and soul into this role and is deserving of every award she has ever received. Of course, she is not the only actor who made this movie the great triumph that it is. Letitia Wright and Danai Gurira did an exceptional job in their expression of the raw emotions caused by losing the people you love. My heart went out to Shuri especially after seeing her have to deal with losing her entire family at such a young age. Finally, the supposed antagonist of the film, Namor, played by Tenoch Huerta, made his debut in the MCU an unforgettable one and I cannot wait to see what he will do in the future. Truly an excellent choice made by the casting directors.
Why are we going so fast???
This movie definitely had a unique method of keeping you on your toes, that method being to never. slow. down. There were plenty of moments where I would try to take a moment and sit with my emotions after a scene, whether that emotion was sadness, joy or even anxiety, but I never really got the chance. Shuri, let alone the audience, barely gets enough time to properly mourn Queen Ramonda’s death before getting pushed back into the issue of how to deal with Namor before he attacks Wakanda again.
For a film that was almost three hours long, they definitely did not shy away from trying to fit as much as they could into that time. One moment you’re watching Shuri and Okoye track down Riri, and the next thing you know Namor is flooding Wakanda. It made me feel like I would miss crucial details if I so much as blinked. There were scenes that could have easily been removed without taking away from the main plot. Namely, the scenes including Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) and Director de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), they all felt so awkward and added nothing to the story besides maybe a short break from the heightened emotions caused by all the other scenes.
Overall, for a company known to capitalize on the deaths of other respected figures, I feel like director Ryan Coogler did a great job in honoring Chadwick’s memory. It was almost as if you could feel Chadwick’s presence all throughout the movie. There was great anticipation surrounding its release, and although I felt like they could have slowed it down a bit, the tribute, the performances of the actors, and so much more made it well worth the wait.
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