Arguably one of the most anticipated movies of the year, Black Panther II: Wakanda Forever, has left fans in anxious anticipation following the death of franchise lead, Chadwick Boseman, from colon cancer in August of 2020. After Marvel made the decision not to recast the titular character, what was the film going to look like for long-term comic book fans and for the new ones who only knew the character of T’challa?
Potential spoilers ahead
The opening sequence of the film deals with Boseman’s T’challa passing away by echoing the real-life tragedy that befell Boseman. This is what launches Shuri (Letitia Wright), T’challa’s sister, right into her character arc. The movie’s main theme is “change”, which is explored in the film by Shuri wanting to explore new innovations and advancements in Wakanda, but that is met with challenges by the old guard of Wakanda like Shuri’s mother, Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) and Okoye (Danai Gurira), general of the Dora Molijae, Wakanda’s elite fighting force.
What further complicates this situation for our protagonist is the inclusion of the sympathetic antagonist, Namor the sub-mariner (Tenoch Huerta), who feels his underwater kingdom of Talocaun is endangered by the ambitious countries that are trying to get their hands on the fictional resource, vibranium. What proceeds afterward is a series of well-placed intentions gone wrong.
One of director, Ryan Coogler’s strengths is giving these two very fictional locations a real presence and a feeling like they could plausibly exist. This is done by infusing them with pre-existing cultures.
This adds to the pride that often marginalized groups who have never seen themselves on screen receive when they look up and see images/characters that represent them.
Even though the film is about dealing in the loss of it’s central figure, T’challa. The film mostly plays in the arena of fun though and is an enjoyable rollercoaster to get on. There are several new additions to the franchise like Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne), whose inclusion in this world is an enjoyment to watch, especially as she harkens back to the days of the first Marvel movie, Iron Man. There is also the addition of Michaela Coel’s, Aneka, who adds a new dimension to the world.
The film is already shattering records by having the 2nd biggest debut of 2022 with a gigantic $180 million in box-office revenue.
But, altogether, presented with a no-win situation that would have had any filmmaker throw in the towel, Coogler manages to have Wakanda forever respectfully deal with the passing of Boseman in a tasteful manner, but also manages to elevate the story to new heights and leave room for dessert as well.
Black Panther II: Wakanda Forever is a story that everyone should go see.