In theaters Nov 11th ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,’ the anticipated sequel to the 2018 film starring Chadwick Boseman. Following the passing of its star, the franchise finds its footing in ‘Wakanda Forever’ by making extraordinary use of an ensemble of powerhouse women. Letitia Wright, Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong’o and Angela Bassett reprise their roles in Wakanda, and welcome Dominique Thorne into the fold.
‘Wakanda Forever’ opens as the family and subjects of T’Challa mourn his passing and celebrate his life. While T’Challa’s death is not a major plot point of the film, the effect of grief on each character’s relationship with themselves and each other is a through line. After the loss of their king, Wakanda finds itself at odds with other powerful nations and under suspicion following an attack on a machine searching for Vibranium. In their attempt to intercept the young engineer (Thorne) responsible for the technology, Shuri (Wright) and Okoye (Gurira) must confront a threat from deep below the ocean’s surface.
‘Wakanda Forever’ strikes a decidedly different tone than 2018’s ‘Black Panther’ and for good reason. In the intervening years, the world has entered a global pandemic and the United States experienced mass uprisings in response to racial violence. Both major events put the best and worst of humanity on display, and ‘Wakanda Forever’ considers similar major questions: How can one act for the common good when others don’t experience the same reality? How can oppressed groups find common ground when pitted against each other?
‘Wakanda Forever’ is an outstanding achievement. Though it is nearly three hours, not a moment feels wasted or too slow. The time is spent well to truly understand the perspective and motivations of the many complex characters laid out. In addition to the familiar ensemble, this film introduces Namor and the people of the underwater kingdom of Talocan. The creative liberties taken with Namor’s character are very well executed, adapting his fantastical background with Mayan myth to create an extremely compelling and visually interesting society.
While ‘Wakanda Forever’ does tell its story through many characters, it follows Shuri the closest. Shuri’s heroes journey is unique in the MCU and in general for a female protagonist because her story is defined by rage and action, a contrast to T’Challa’s placid wisdom. With her idealism stripped away, Shuri comes to mirror the film’s anti-hero far more than the previous Black Panther, and it makes for a much richer story. There is no ‘good guy’ and ‘bad guy,’ or ‘right’ and ‘wrong,’ only difficult decisions and their consequences.
‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ is in theaters and is a must see for all audiences, Marvel fans or not.