Black Panther: Wakanda Forever movie review

When sitting down to watch any Marvel movie, as the trailers end and the movie begins to play, one might feel excited, anxious even. But rarely do those intense emotions fade into sorrow. 

Upon the sound of yelling as Black Panther 2: Wakanda Forever began, there is nothing else to feel except sadness. The emotional start to the movie aside, the rest of the film is beautiful and well written, from the hilarious quips, to interesting new characters and various gorgeous settings filled with culture. The popular Marvel logo montage during the introduction was altered to show clips of Chadwick Boseman throughout his career with the franchise. The usually loud and suspenseful music was also removed, an unspoken request for a moment of silence, leaving the theatre hushed and heavy.

Right off the bat, the film begins with T’Challa’s (Chadwick Boseman) death scene. He dies similarly to how Boseman passed in real life – from an unknown illness. The general sense of the movie as a whole was automatically set in stone with this scene due to this incredibly impactful moment.

The movie mainly follows Shuri (Letita Wright), T’Challa’s sister and her journey dealing with the greif from losing her brother. Another obstacle arises when the leader of a civilization that also has access to vibranium, a precious and dangerous metal, asks for the help of the Wakandans to destroy the rest of the world before their vibranium is taken from them. If Shuri refuses, he threatens to declare a war the Wakandans are sure to lose.

Similarly to the first Black Panther movie, rich culture is shown beautifully. The antagonists in the movie, the Talokan, a species of underwater beings with Meso-American inspired culture. Their clothing, architecture, and artifacts are heavily on display throughout the movie, and it’s beautiful to see.  

Additionally, there are quite a few scenes that take place in Haiti, a typically underrepresented Caribbean country. 

“I was moved to see scenes taking place in Cap-Haitien, to hear Creole, to see references to Toussaint, to 1804, a good reminder for us Haitians,” Soucaneau Gabriel, a Haitian journalist based in France said. The film does an excellent job of showing a variety of practicies and traditions in a positive light during very brief scenes.

T’Challa’s funeral also highlights the practices of many African cultures; the Wakandans sing and dance and rejoice in the life the Black Panther lived, rather than mourning his passing. 

The amount of strong female representation in the movie is consistent and empowering. Shuri (Letita Wright), Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), Riri Williams (Dominique Thorn), and Okoye (Danai Gurira), are all at the forefront of the movie and play important parts in the plot. Riri Williams, MIT student also known as Ironheart is a new addition to the Black Panther movies. She’s a 19 year old technological genius from Chicago, who idolizes Tony Stark and makes creative inventions such as a vibranium detector that makes her a target of several governments.

In the movie, she is taken to Wakanda by Shuri and Okoye, where she is introduced to their people and advanced technology, and uses her knowledge to help the Wakandans in their fight against the Talokan. There is controversy around her role in the movie, some saying that her character is treated more like a plot device than a fully fleshed out character. However, although there are many intelligent women in the Black Panther films, it’s refreshing to see a young Black woman that lives in an environment similar to my own succeed acedemically. She brings a perspective and experience that is easy to relate to, and it adds a refreshing aspect to the movie.

The film also does an excellent job of displaying how grief is processed in different ways. Shuri is angry and spiteful at the world for taking her brother away from her, and later on during the war between the Wakandans and Talokan, her mother is killed, leaving her with no living family. The rage she feels and aggressive mentality she has drives her actions throughout the movie, and it’s portrayed excellently.

One disappointing aspect of the movie is the lack of action, which is to be expected, as one of the surrounding themes is death and recovering from the loss of a loved one. However, I still expected to see what’s expected from a Marvel movie – lots of intense fight scenes and thrilling conflicts, and was unfortunately let down.

Overall, Black Panther 2: Wakanda Forever, is a touching Chadwick Boseman tribute that moved theaters around the world to tears. During the post credits scene, it is revealed that T’Challa and his former lover, Nakia, secretly had a child together, flawlessly setting up anticipation for the next Black Panther film that is assumed to feature his son’s journey taking on his role. The movie is the definition of bittersweet, and unable to be compared to any other Marvel movie.