BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER Review: Successful tribute to Chadwick Boseman
Updated: Feb 1
Marvel had a big challenge on their hands with the sequel to Black Panther with the shocking & unfortunate passing of Chadwick Boseman in 2020, a very sad loss that hit us all pretty hard. I also want to start by saying I haven't been the biggest fan of this Phase 4 by Marvel that started with Black Widow in 2020, it's been hit & miss for me so I was nervous for the sequel to Black Panther. I'm happy to report that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a success. I think Ryan Coogler and his team hit a home run with Wakanda Forever by paying tribute to Chadwick Boseman and moving the story forward respectfully.
Synopsis: "The people of Wakanda fight to protect their home from intervening world powers as they mourn the death of King T'Challa."
I won't go into spoilers, but the movie starts with an emotional bang. Wakanda Forever builds on the great fondation that was established in the first Black Panther, a visual feast with breathtaking production design, fantastic costumes and impressive action sequences. The music from Ludwig Goransson is once again phenomenal, he creates a signature to this film that gives us the iconic sound of Wakanda while incorporing new themes for this sequel.
Similar to the first film with Wakanda, there's a lot of world-building with the newly introduced Namor and the underwater world. This allows director Ryan Coogler to let his vision shine on the screen, it's spectacular to look at and the way they filmed the underwater sequences was truly astonishing. Ironically, most of superhero movies depend on their villains in order to succeed, they nailed it with Killmonger and what they did here is just as good, if not better.
I don't think it's a perfect film, with a hefty runtime of 161 minutes, there are some moments that were dragging in the middle for me, but I think it was necessary for this film to be a bit longer than usual. Every character has their shining moments, Shuri is at the heart of this movie but Nakia, Okoye, M'Baku and Queen Ramonda all get their shining moments and a solid story arc that is rewarding by the end, so I don't really have an issue with the movie being this long.
I have some other nitpicks that are spoiler-y, so I cannot really discuss them at the time. Everyone's motivation is clear and the main story is so engaging that I didn't really care for Marvel doing their usual "laying the ground for the future" stuff with certain characters (without getting into details). However, I can say that Namor was a terrific character, I absolutely love what they did with him storywise and visually. He absolutely slays during the action sequences, Tenoch Huerta is a great actor that fits the role perfectly, no surprise with the spot-on Marvel casting there.
This is a movie to see on the big screen, without a doubt this is the best film the MCU has delivered in the Phase 4. The scale is epic but the film feels very intimate and personal because of what happened with Chadwick. The fact that they incorporated his passing into the story beautifully was so important & crucial. Ryan Coogler is probably the best director working for Marvel right now and I'm very excited to see what he does next after this big win.
Initial Score: 8/10
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hits theaters on November 11th
New Score: 8.5/10*
*Editor's Note: Upon rewatch, I found myself deeply connected emotionally to the story once again and everything I loved about it only made me enjoy this more this time around. I've been listening to the score for the past 2-3 months since the movie came out, so I already feel like it's a movie I'll be watching a lot because of the music. I was really looking forward to watching it again and the flaws were overshadowed by the strengths, so I'm bumping my score to 8.5.
Edited on February 1st 2023.