Film Review: “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” (2022)
An emotionally satisfying conclusion to Marvel’s phase 4.
When we last visited Wakanda, it was in 2018 with both “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War”. The former was a very well-made film that, despite having a formulaic plot, made a strong impact on audiences mostly due to its cultural representation. The latter was a subversive and intense event of a film that would lead to one of the best finales ever filmed. After, Its successor, “Endgame”, however. It seems that the Marvel Cinematic Universe may have been struggling to find its sense of direction. While Phase 4 has given us some of the best of the MCU in last year’s “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and “Shang Chi: The Legend of the Ten Rings”, it has shown Marvel at its downright worst with the tedious “Eternals” and the abysmal “Thor: Love & Thunder”. So, where does “Wakanda Forever” land in Marvel’s most inconsistent phase?
Before going on, I want to take time and acknowledge that director Ryan Coogler was given an impossible task: making a Black Panther movie without T’Challa. I, along with the rest of the world, was both shocked and heartbroken when the news broke two years ago that Chadwick Boseman passed away from his battle with cancer. Boseman was not just a great T’Challa but, also a talented and genuinely humble man. He was a hero to many in the world. Not just as Black Panther but also as Jackie Robinson in 2013’s “42”. The cast and crew were given the monumental challenge of not only making this film but, also paying tribute without becoming exploitative or manipulative. Did they succeed in doing so? Absolutely!
A year after the demise of King T’Challa, the nation remains in mourning as Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) is questioned by the UN on the dangers of Vibranium and its access. At the same time, a new nation is discovered: the underwater kingdom of Talokan. Ruled by Namor (Tenoch Huerta), the kingdom starts to view Wakanda as a threat to their nation and waged war on them. At the same time, Shuri (Letitia Wright) is tasked with finding Riri Williams (Dominque Thorne) after a device mining for vibranium is traced back to her. As tensions between Wakanda and Talokan grow, the CIA (Martin Freeman) also get involved.