Time: 161 Minutes
Age Rating: Violence
Letitia Wright as Shuri
Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia
Danai Gurira as Okoye
Winston Duke as M’Baku
Florence Kasumba as Ayo
Dominique Thorne as Riri Williams
Michaela Coel as Aneka
Tenoch Huerta Mejía as Namor
Martin Freeman as Everett K. Ross
Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Valentina Allegra de Fontaine
Angela Bassett as Ramonda
Director: Ryan Coogler
Queen Ramonda, Shuri, M’Baku, Okoye and the Dora Milaje fight to protect their nation from intervening world powers in the wake of King T’Challa’s death. As the Wakandans strive to embrace their next chapter, the heroes must band together with Nakia and Everett Ross to forge a new path for their beloved kingdom.
I was losing interest in the MCU since Phase 4’s start, there was only a few movies that I was curious about: one of those movies was Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The biggest challenge it had was that it was dealing with the tragic passing of Chadwick Boseman (who played Black Panther/T’Challa). It had a lot to handle, but I think they pulled it off.
Wakanda Forever aims to be a sequel to Black Panther and a tribute to Chadwick Boseman, and I think it succeeded at both. In fact, there’s a good amount of stuff that surpasses the first movie for me. Like with the first Black Panther, while it is definitely in the MCU, it distances itself from the rest of those worlds and outside characters, it is more focussed on being its own story. There is some MCU worldbuilding for future projects and that can be a little annoying, but it was mostly just distracting at worst. There is some complexity to the story and perhaps it’s a little messy with the amount of stuff it puts in, but I liked what we got. The worldbuilding was solid, I was particularly interested in learning about this new nation of Talokan that was introduced, but I wish there was more of it, we didn’t get to spend that much time there. Although we can predict how it’ll play out, the movie felt like it had actual stakes to it, and has a heartfelt and emotionally charged story. This isn’t a spoiler but the way that they handle T’Challa’s death was well handled. He is established as dead from the beginning, but his presence is felt throughout. Wakanda Forever is just as thematically strong as its predecessor. Fittingly, much of the movie deals with grief, morality and the impact of loss. Much of the MCU’s Phase 4 can be chalked up as to ‘dealing with grief’, but the difference is that Wakanda Forever actually feels genuine. It is also heavily character focused; despite the scale it does feel personal and even allows for some great introspective moments. There is a sombre and mature tone throughout, that said there are also some moments of humour and most of it fits well. Even in the times where the jokes don’t work, they don’t drag the movie down too much or become too distracting like in the other MCU films. There is a mid credits scene and I think it is worth sticking around for. Its more like an extension on the ending and it is fitting for the movie. Something notable is the long runtime which is 2 hours and 40 minutes long, it is slower paced too. Overall I think that it mostly works, but perhaps I might take more issue upon a rewatch. It did feel jam packed with stuff and some parts work better than others. However, I can say for certain that a subplot involving Martin Freeman’s Everett Ross and another side character easily could’ve been cut down. While I saw the point of that storyline, it felt like a detour and out of place from the rest of the movie.
The absence of Chadwick Boseman is certainly felt. Nonetheless, the cast here do a tremendous job and deliver some great performances. Letitia Wright as Shuri is the closest thing to a lead character in this movie, and gets so much more to do here than her prior appearances. She brought a lot of emotion to her part, especially in the second half. Angela Bassett also delivers a powerful performance as Queen Ramonda. There are some other returning actors including Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke who are also good in their parts, I just wish they had more involvement and scenes. One of the new additions to the cast was Dominique Thorne as Riri Williams/Ironheart. I was admittedly unsure how she would fit into the movie, not to mention there is an upcoming show focussed on her character. It did feel like she was only here to set up that show, but she does actually fit into the plot better than expected despite feeling like a plot device. Thorne is good in her part and delivers on the comedic elements. The villain of the movie is Namora, played by Tenoch Huerta, and he was one of the highlights of the film. Like Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger from the first Black Panther movie, Namor is a powerful, ruthless, yet interesting and understandable villain who steals all the scenes he was in. Definitely one of the best MCU villains yet.
Ryan Coogler returns to direct the Black Panther sequel and his work is amazing once again. It is beautifully shot, even if its not as visually interesting compared to the first movie. The action is pretty good and an improvement over the first movie’s, even if some are clearly better than others. There is particularly one fight scene that doesn’t have any music playing and its probably the best action scene in the movie, it had genuine tension. The costume, production design and score from Ludwig Göransson is as incredible as the previous movie. As for the CGI, considering much of the recent MCU projects like Thor: Love and Thunder, its pretty good. Of course it had moments of bad looking effects and green screen, particularly in the third act, but at that point I was invested enough in the movie that it didn’t matter too much.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has its issues, it is a bit overstuffed and not all of it works. On the whole though, it is really good. Considering all the things Coogler and co. had to do following challenging circumstances, they pulled it off. I was invested in the story, the action is decent, and the performances are great, not to mention it is a heartfelt tribute to Chadwick Boseman. It is one of the better MCU films and is by far the best Phase 4 movie.