It’s no secret that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever took on a towering task when it came to following 2018’s first instalment. Having arrived at the tail end of the Infinity Saga when the Marvel franchise was an unstoppable pop-culture superpower, 2018’s Black Panther became one of the MCU’s greatest success stories. However, it wasn’t just the weight of its predecessor’s success that Wakanda Forever would be forced to bear, but also how it would deal with the tragic passing of original Black Panther star, Chadwick Boseman.
So how did it do?
First, I want to confirm that Wakanda Forever dealt with Boseman’s absence beautifully. I won’t give too much away, but the film’s emotional opening gave both Boseman and his character a wonderfully poignant send-off. Needless to say, emotions were running high from the word go.
With Boseman’s death baked into the script, Wakanda Forever tells a story of both cultural and personal vulnerability. Without its protector, Wakanda is left vulnerable following the passing of King T’Challa. With Ramonda having ascended the throne as Queen, she and her family are left to ward off the plethora of political powers that would plunder Wakanda for its resources. However, when a far more threatening enemy rises from the depths, Queen Ramonda, Princess Shuri, M’Baku, Okoye and the Dora Milaje must pull together to defend their Kingdom from a threat unlike anything ever before seen.
Even with a 2-hour and 41-minute runtime, the plot did have a lot to pack in. And while there were some really engaging focal points, the progression did some jumping around before getting to the meat of the subject matter. I couldn’t help but feel that it didn’t need to be bordering on a 3-hour run time and that with a couple more script drafts, the movie probably could have been more streamlined than it was. However, amid a handful of questionable decisions, Wakanda Forever successfully achieved its goal with some genuinely moving moments along the way. It had good character growth and focused on emotional and logistical hooks that kept audience members present.
One thing I liked about this movie was the presence of something that I find a lot of other MCU entries to be lacking: atmosphere. The feelings evoked by Wakanda Forever were notably distinctive. Much of this was due to the incredible score, composed by Ludwig Göransson. With his diverse use of tone and genre, the soundtrack to this movie turned scenes from eerie to epic in the blink of an eye. A notable time in which the score truly shines was in the presence of the movie’s villains. With their siren-esque chorus, the adversaries of this MCU addition had your blood going before you even saw them.
Of course, no matter how good a movie looks or sounds, well-carried performances are always imperative. Having unexpectedly graduated from supporting cast to the emotional focal point of the Black Panther arc, Letitia Wright really stepped up to the fleshing out of her role as Princess Shuri. Taking on a mammoth task that she probably never expected to have thrown at her, she did a great job of carrying this movie through, and I look forward to any future appearances she may have in the MCU. Other honourable mentions go to Florence Kasumba as the imposing General Ayo of the Dora Milaje and Winston Duke as the ever-charismatic M’Baku.
However, the standout actor for me was undoubtedly Angela Bassett as Queen Ramonda. Her restrained yet powerful performance portrayed an engaging regal dignity that was as indicative of wisdom as it was strength. Her nuanced interpretation adding layers upon layers of emotional and political depth to her character, no one in the cast held my attention quite like her.
Overall, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever had some pretty messy moments in terms of script and story progression. But I think it nevertheless achieved what it set out to do, giving Chadwick Boseman a touching farewell while simultaneously ushering in the new era of the MCU’s incarnation of the Black Panther. With a decent amount of emotional depth, an impeccable soundtrack and gorgeous cinematography by Autumn Durald, Wakanda Forever is a worthy sequel.
Have you seen Black Panther: Wakanda Forever? How do you think it holds up next to its beloved predecessor? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, or drop a post on the Wild River Comics Discussion Club!