The Sunday Mail
Prior to its release, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” was a shoo-in for box office success.
With the movie grossing US$350 million in only its second week, it goes without saying that the Disney production has lived up to expectations. Let us get into the nitty-gritty of why this “Black Panther” sequel was such a resounding success and, dare I say, even better than the original.
At its core, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is a fitting tribute to the great Chadwick Boseman, who died of colon cancer in 2020.
Marvel Studios could have taken the easier route and retired the character off-screen, like how the “Fast and Furious” franchise handled the death of Paul Walker, or simply recast the character like Boseman’s family has been angling for since the actor’s untimely death.
Marvel, in that regard, deserves credit for the bravery and the tribute. As to be expected, the entire nation of Wakanda is in deep mourning when the movie begins.
Each character is dealing with T’Challa’s death in their own way, as Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) appears to go on the offensive on the other super nation’s ambitions to take vibranium by hook or by crook from the shores of Wakanda.
Shuri (Letitia Wright) has recoiled into her lab, while Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) has relocated to Haiti. However, they are all forced to reunite when a new threat emerges from the sea. The threat in question is Namor, who rules over his own dominion under water, where large deposits of vibranium exist and are now at risk of exposure.
Namor confronts Ramonda and Shuri by easily bypassing Wakanda’s advanced security, and blames the Wakanda people for the vibranium race.
He gives them an ultimatum: To bring to him the scientist responsible for the vibranium-detecting machine or he will attack Wakanda. The scientist in question is a child prodigy by the name of Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne).
This movie, however, is seemingly a backdoor pilot to her own series “Ironheart”, which will be released next year.
When negotiations fail, war fast approaches, as Namor’s people look stronger and fast due to decades of exposure to vibranium.
The only counter is to use Shuri and Williams’ scientific minds, and reconstruct the heart-shaped herb that gives the Black Panther speed and strength.
Writers do not usually get enough credit from both critics and fans, but here I have to give a little shout-out to the duo of Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole.
The story is airtight and easy to follow.
You hardly feel the 161-minute runtime and everything ties up in a nice little bow at the end.
Wright, whom I have been very critical of since the first “Black Panther”, steals the show as a vengeful and bitter princess eager to see the world burn for the loss she has been forced to bear.
I think director Coogler allowed the actors and actresses to tap into their real-life loss of Boseman, and the results are outstanding.
It is cinema at its best, especially when the lines between reality and fiction are blurred like this.
Namor also comes off as a credible villain as all he wants is to protect his people, and Tenoch Huerta milks every scene he is in.
As a side note, the wings at the ankles do not really scream menace or instil fear. The costumes department could have done a better job at that.
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is a fine end to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s phase four, which has been known for inconsistencies more than anything else.
Bring on “Kang the Conqueror”.