Black Panther Wakanda Forever shows a nation in mourning

In August of 2020, news broke out that Chadwick Boseman, actor for Black Panther, had passed away from prostate cancer. The news broke out while Black Panther 2 was being filmed. This led to the story for Black Panther 2 to be redone. I was wondering how this second movie would pick up and how the story would continue. I had some theories, some of which were later confirmed when I saw the movie. However, next to nothing was known about the movie for a while. It was delayed for a while, due to on-set controversies and the director being mistakedly arrested in early January 2022 to actor injuries on set. Black Panther Wakanda Forever was eventually released on Nov 11, 2022 after multiple delays. It received critical acclaim and is set to be one of the best movies to release since the pandemic released.

The movie does an excellent job of remembering the late Chadwick Boseman. Without spoiling the actual movie, the opening scenes were beautifully done. The death of T’Challa in the beginning was really moving and helped set the tone for the rest of the movie to continue. The Actors really did their best on the opening scenes and that’s why I was still sad when I saw these scenes. It was as if Chadwick Boseman had just passed away within the last week, and we were watching his family react to his death. I loved how the movie treated his death, it was really powerful and moving.The entire movie is centered around how the nation of Wakanda will move forward after their king has passed away. King T’Challa was a symbol of greatness and not just a superhero, the same was true of Chadwick Boseman. He will leave behind a great multitude of works that will help remember him for years to come. Instead of recasting Black Panther, the movie took the route of remembering his life and legacy as was the case with the post credits scene.So it was safe to say that the Black Panther mantle being passed on was kind of predictable. It has happened before in the comic books, so I kinda knew that Shuri was going to become Black Panther. However, to me there is a lot going on in the movie. This movie is extremely complicated if you think about it.

Slight spoiler warning for this paragraph. Here’s a quick summary of the movie, Tchalla’s Mother is in charge (for the time being, and Shuri is trying to follow in her brother’s footsteps.Outside countries are trying to take Wakanda’s supplies of Vibranium, which leads the Dora Milaje to defend against the other countries. Wakanda can hold it’s own against these other countries, however a new threat emerges that comes from under the water. That threat is the nation of Talokan, who is in control of the only other source of vibranium on the planet. Namor, the leader of this nation, is in charge of the descendents of a tribe who went under water to escape colonizers. Namor doesn’t like the land dwelling people because, they only hurt people not help them. Namor proposes an alliance with Wakanda and the other option is to kill Riri and have war. Riri is an M.I.T. student who created a device that can track vibranium. That’s a lot of stuff isn’t it.

There’s also a lot of characters involved in the movie too, we have Shuri, who has a protoge, Riri. The Queen Ramonda, C.I.A. agent Everett Ross who sympathizes with Wakanda. There’s also Val, who first appeared in the Falcon and the Winter Soldier, she is also Ross’s ex wife and his boss. To top it off, there are a bunch of high-tech battles, under-water and over water battles, and a lot of slow moments that build relationships and allows us to understand Namor’s motives and why he hates the people who live on the surface. Which, when he explains what happens, is understandable and makes (at least me) feel bad for him. If i’m honest, Namor is one of the few marvel villains that i’ve liked in general. Both the Black Panther movies have had exceptional villains, who audiences actually like and can relate with. Ryan Coogler is one of the best directors, apart from Christopher Nolan and Steven Spielberg. He can throw so many elements into one movie such as Wakanda Forever, and make it easy to follow. He puts his best into the movies that he makes and that’s why he is one of the best marvel directors, apart from the Russo Brothers. The Russo Brothers effectively ended the first three phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Avengers:Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.

The movie leans more heavily into women empowerment. The entire movie is centered about women and women empowerment. That theme is not fan service, unlike Avengers Endgame, when there was a scene with all the female superheroes together. That scene got a lot of backlash for that, but this movie pulls it off well. Shuri taking the Black Panther mantle and her facing her own demons was an emotional scene. She had to look inside to figure out, why is she taking over the mantle? How can she follow in her brother’s footsteps? She also goes through the grieving stages in this movie and it’s sad to see her despair as she realizes that she couldn’t save her brother. It’s sad watching someone so talented spiral into a dark hole where she’s angry at the world and herself. Worse part is, that it happens to most people, they have trouble moving on. It’s depressing to see it play out on screen, but Ryan Coogler does a great job making these scenes emotional, and he allows these scenes to advance the movie not stall it. Every scene in this movie mattered, and each scene is important.

To help with Shuri’s grieving process, many of T’challa’s peers come to help Shuri. We have T’Challa’s love interest, Nakia come to help Shuri as she is going through some dark times. I believe that Nakia could’ve been more effectively introduced earlier, but nonetheless she still has some memorable moments in her scenes. Throughout the movie, T’Challa’s family and friends are there to help Shuri remember that even though T’Challa is gone, that life still goes on and that she needs to move on. Those scenes where she evolves as a character and as she evolves emotionally are powerful. I hope that this movie helps remind those who are grieving that they don’t have to forget their loved ones, but that it’s not healthy to dwell on what has happened and that people have to move on. People need to depend on their friends and not deal with it themselves.

It’s nice seeing Shuri’s relationship with the Jabari tribe evolve. In the first Black Panther movie, M’baku dismissed as Shuri as a child, giving her no respect. In this movie, He gives her more respect, telling her that she can’t be considered a child considering what she’s went through. He’s become more kinder as a character, and is no longer harsh. It’s nice to see characters change as time goes on and it’s evident that he’s evolved since the first Black Panther. The other characters are pretty interesting too. As was the case with Riri Williams, who is looking like she might be the next Iron Man (Or Iron Woman). She is very interesting, and this movie was more of a origin story for her. This movie gave us her entire backstory, and could set the stage for the Disney+ Ironheart show. I’m excited where she goes and how she evolves as a character.

While Namor and the underwater kingdom of Talokan is very interesting, I felt as if Talokan wasn’t fleshed out enough. It would’ve been nice to see Talokan fleshed out like Wakanda was, we know about it’s government, the people who inhabit it, and it’s culture. However, we only learn about Talokan through a 5-10 minute flashback and a quick tour through the kingdom. The flashback itself feels rushed and not much is known about the modern kingdom. I would’ve loved to see Talokan fleshed out more, I wanna see how the kingdom runs nowadays. Hopefully we get to see Talokan return and, we will get to learn more about this kingdom.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is one of the greatest Marvel movies to come out within the past couple of years. It does leave some things to be desired, but all in all I give this movie a 9/10 rating. It was great seeing the characters evolve and, watching how everyone is dealing with the death of T’Challa. Everything about this movie was so well done, and i’m excited to see where the MCU goes next.