One of the year's most anticipated movies finally arrives as director Ryan Coogler returns to the world of Wakanda in Marvel Studios Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Coogler once again pens the script with writer Joe Robert Cole.
I'll never forget the shock I felt on Friday night, August 28th, when I learned that Chadwick Boseman had passed away. Two years later, his loss is still tough to deal with, particularly when revisiting his acting credits. Nevertheless, when considering how immensely successful Black Panther a sequel was inevitable.
When Boseman passed away, Coogler had already turned in his first draft and was in the middle of the second draft. The question on everyone's mind was how to proceed. Industry observers felt Disney should recast the role, but that might generate a "fan outcry" and prompt comparisons between actors.
E-Man's Movie Reviews started even a popular petition to Recast T'Challa To Honor Chadwick Boseman. Another suggestion was for Disney to shift their plans and have Shuri take on the mantle of the Black Panther, which occurs in the comic book. So the question on everyone's mind is, what angle do Coogler and company take in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever? First and foremost, let me assure fans that I will keep this review as spoiler free as possible.
Following the death of King T'Challa, Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), Shuri (Letitia Wright), M'Baku (Winston Duke), Okoye (Danai Gurira), and the second-in-command of the Dora Milaje Ayo (Florence Kasumba) struggle to protect their nation from the interference of intervening world powers. To forge a new path for the kingdom of Wakanda, the heroes must unite with the help of War Dog Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o), child prodigy RiRi Williams (Dominique Thorne) and Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) as the Wakandans embrace their new chapter. Added to the situation's complexity is possibly a new threat emerging from the hidden undersea nation of Talokan, governed by Namor (Tenoch Huerta).
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever wastes no time in pulling at our heartstrings. Within the film's first few minutes, the emotions were universal in my audience. Coogler and his co-writer. have crafted a film about coping with loss and finding the strength to move on. That's not to say there isn't action in the film because there is. One particular scene within the first forty-five minutes of the film garnered numerous applauses. I commend Coogler and Cole for finding a delicate balance between the emotional beats and the action. The actors dealing with the loss of Chadwick provide the same type of performances that we loved in the first film.
It is no surprise that Angela Bassett is in stellar form as Queen of Wakanda. She has some genuinely moving moments and some great speeches on top of that. Furthermore, we find that Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o is as gorgeous as ever. Likewise, the returning members of the Dora Milaje exude elegance and strength when doing their thing.
Letitia Wright does a superb job in the role of Shuri, our lead character in the film. She never tries to top the performance that Chadwick Boseman gave us in the first movie. Dominique Thorne, a new addition to the cast, holds enough extra points as Riri Williams to arouse the audience's anticipation for her own Ironheart show next year.
In the role of Namor ,Tenoch Huerta makes a strong impression. His arc will draw comparisons to Kilmonger from the first film. While Mabel Cadena, who portrays Namor's cousin Namora and Alex Livinalli as Talokanil warrior Attuma, had me wanting to see more of them ASAP. Surprisingly the tiny gripes I had with the film were necessary for the type of story the filmmakers were telling. However, I was always energized during the 165-minute run time.
Black Panther Wakanda Forever doesn't set out to surpass its predecessor. As a result, it's a beautiful capstone to Phase 4 and a subtle setup for Phase 5. As a whole, the film possesses an emotional resonance, with a deep subtext that pays homage to Chadwick Boseman's performance and T'Challa.
Final Grade: A-
Black Panther Wakanda Forever opens today