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Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022) – Review

November 9, 2022

Quick Thoughts – Grade – B+

Note – The toughest part about reviewing a Marvel Cinematic Universe film is that I never want to give away any spoilers that will wreck the experience for the viewer. Thus, I’m going to write as much as I can with the synopsis in mind. The synopsis for the sequel reads “The leaders of the kingdom of Wakanda fight to protect their nation from invading forces in the wake of King T’Challa’s death, while a new threat emerges from the hidden undersea nation of Talokan ruled by Namor.” 

When Black Panther (2018) ended, King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) shared the secret of his powerful country with the rest of the world. Rich in vibranium (a super uber metal that came from a meteorite), his technologically superior nation had kept itself a secret from the rest of the world as it didn’t want to get involved with all the violence and mayhem that earthlings were capable of. However, after the assassination of T’Challa’s father T’Chaka (John Kani), and Killmongers (Michael B. Jordan) takeover of Wakanda, T’Challa felt the time was right to introduce his country to the rest of the world. It was a bold move that was meant to help the planet by creating jobs, outreach programs, and homes. But, once the world powers learned about vibranium, they became greedy and put plans in motion to snag some of the sweet space metal. All of this was interrupted by the blip (Thanos making half the universe’s population disappear), but when things started getting back to post-blip normalcy, the hunt for vibranium was back on, and this kicks off the main plot for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever begins with Shuri (letitia Wright) desperately searching for a way to save her brother T’Challa from dying. He kept his sickness a secret from his family, and eventually succumbed to his illness. This leaves a massive power gap as there is no Black Panther successor, which leaves Wakanda without a protector, and no king which leaves the ruling duties up to Ramonda (Angela Bassett), the Queen Mother of Wakanda.. After a long period of mourning, the country needs to find a way to deal with world leaders who are hungry for their technology, while dealing with another threat from Namor (Tenoch Huerta), the rule of Talokan, an underwater nation loaded with vibranium-armed warriors who aren’t happy that their civilization is being threatened by the search for vibranium. Namor tasks Ramond, Shuri, and Okoye (Danai Gurira) with finding, and killing the person responsible for creating the machine that can locate the meteorite metal. The problem is, the creator is a 19-year old Tony-Stark-esque genius named Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne), who created the machine as a class assignment and isn’t aware it’s being used to actually locate vibranium. Since, the Wakandans aren’t killers, they decide to not kill Riri and this sets the two powerful nations towards a brutal and water-logged war. 

I don’t’ want to spoil anything else, just know that things go off the rails, and this forces Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), M’Baku (Winston Duke), Everett K. Ross (Martin Freeman) and Ayo (Florence Kasumba) all join the battle to save Wakanda and prevent an aquatic bloodfest. 

What I like most about Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is that it takes its time and isn’t afraid to deal with grief, loss, and sadness. The early passing of Chadwick Boseman was wildly tragic, and the fact that director Ryan Coogler was able to create a film that moves the MCU forward while honoring Boseman is an impressive feat. Also, the cinematography by Autumn Durald Arkapaw (Teen Spirit, Loki) finds ways to be intimate despite the film being about two secret nations loaded with ultra-technology about to go to war. The biggest disappointment is that Hanna Beachler’s production design seems augmented with way too much VFX. A lot of the sets seem quickly constructed and lack the personality of the 2018 film which won her an Academy Award. 

Final thoughts – I can’t think of a film that has had such high expectations. 2018’s Black Panther was a massive blockbuster that earned over a billion dollars and was nominated for Oscars. With the passing of Chadwick Boseman, the creators had to pivot, refocus, and pull off a movie that honors Boseman, introduces several new key MCU players, and gives the dozen or so characters from the original screen time and character development. In the end, Coogler pulls it off, and I’m excited to see what he does next.

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