By Anthony Marshall
November 14, 2022 Raleigh, NC
Because December is the month where we celebrate the greatest gift ever given to humanity, we would like to share some of what we have found to be gifts in the world of Entertainment and the Arts. We reached out to Marvel Comics Superfan, Anthony Marshall for a look at the long-anticipated sequel to Black Panther, Wakanda Forever.
The news that the role of T’Challa would not be recast by Marvel Studios’ President Kevin Fiege, raised questions about the upcoming sequel, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. What would become of the beautiful African nation? How would the story progress without the titular character? Those questions have finally been answered.
The film thrusts us into complete chaos right off the bat, as we are reintroduced to the brilliant Princess Shuri (Letitia Wright), in a race to save the life of the unseen King suffering from an unspecified disease. The distressing opening scene ends abruptly with the announcement of the death of King T’Challa. by the legendary Angela Bassett reprising her role as Ramonda, is easily one of her most stirring performances in recent memory. This sets forth one of the most deeply emotional Marvel efforts since 2019’s Avengers: Endgame. The sentiment is felt throughout the two hour and forty-one-minute runtime.
Ryan Coogler returns to the directing and writing helms. His keen eye is again on full display as the visuals of Wakanda are even more breath-taking than the last outing. From the festive yet solemn send-off of the benevolent king, to the views and scenes of everyday life in the fictional African Commonwealth, Coogler, once again proves why he is one of the best young directors in Hollywood today.
The movie features our favorite surviving Wakandans pitted against mounting pressure to supply the world with their precious native Vibranium. There is also the new threat of the underwater empire of Talokan led by classic Marvel anti-hero, Namor, in his MCU debut. Namor, played by Tenoch Huerte, shines as another relatable antagonist. This illuminates the wisdom of Wakanda having remained secluded from the world for so long. Now, Talokan is at risk of being exposed to the world as a nation also rich with Vibranium.
The ensemble does an impressive job, all things considered. Strong performances by Lupita Nyong'o, Winston Duke, and Danai Gurira reprising their roles as Nakia, M’Baku, and General Okoye respectively. A newcomer to the MCU, Dominique Thorne, portrays Riri Williams, a young and gifted MIT student who finds herself reluctantly immersed in the conflict of the warring nations and serves as a wonderful foil to Shuri.
Shuri’s character arc is among the best in recent Marvel movie history, transitioning from intriguing supporting character to the new titular Black Panther. While the movie as a whole is an absolute triumph, it is not without flaws. The pacing is disjointed at times and with the second longest runtime for a Marvel film in history, some scenes and lesser storylines should’ve been cut. However, despite these small gripes Black Panther: Wakanda Forever remains a solid entry into the MCU, a classy tribute and love letter to the late Chadwick Boseman, as well as an exciting glimpse into the future of the legacy of Wakanda.