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The time has come to return to the kingdom of Wakanda and for the first time, the world will have to take its first steps into the story and the future of the franchise without the help of the legendary Chadwick Boseman. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is here, and the question looming is simple- Will this film be able to carry forward without T’Challa, and what direction will it take in moving the narrative of Black Panther into this latest Marvel phase and beyond?
To put it simply, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is glorious to behold, delivering a beautiful and powerful story with incredible performances, unexpected surprises, all the while carrying on the legacy of Chadwick Boseman with grace and dignity. The film, similar to its predecessor reminds fans and the world of cinema that representation matters; not for the sake of an agenda or to push ideology, but to tell real stories that are relatable to audiences of all backgrounds and experiences. (You can read more about this in our exclusive interview here).
This tale fits right in with the original film in breaking barriers, unleashing a remarkable power that has helped shape this franchise into a beacon of light for the very cultures it highlights, finding new ways to bring these stories to a wider scope and spotlight in the most genuine way possible.
It all boils down to breaking away from the traditional super hero formula in subtle ways, slowing down the pace to allow time to center in on the raw emotions each character is enduring through loss and reshaping their notions of not only their own identities, but how to grapple with their emotions to move forward. Those decisions, heavily weighted, have consequences, and in the end, every single person in Wakanda Forever has to come face to face with themselves and how their own feelings towards this tragedy will help shape what’s to come and how the world is impacted by the change in tide through T’Challa’s passing.
Yet, this is not a new concept, as the lasting impact of grief and loss is a common thread that ties much of the MCU together. Even looking back at the introduction of T’Challa and Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War, the very struggle all comes center to the loss of his father, the discovery of the lies and death of his uncle, and the fervor and rage that comes from losing those who are most close to you. This carries forward again with the aftermath of the Battle of Wakanda against Thanos, as T’Challa and many others were taken in the snap, only to return after the heroic efforts of the Avengers in Endgame.
Nevertheless, the turmoil and struggle continue to play out in sync in this story, bringing Shuri to the limelight as she and her entire family try to find a way to keep moving without the presence of T’Challa, who was the heart and center of their world. Letitia Wright’s performance speaks volumes, evolving right in front of the audience and bringing newfound depth into an already rich and loveable character.
Shuri, who has always been full of light, acting as a guardian angel for T’Challa, will have to not only learn how to grapple with her own internal grief and loss of self, but try and pick up the pieces in the waves of destruction and chaos that surround her. Wright’s Shuri is a force to be reckoned with, bringing something special to the forefront all the while making room for the rest of her ensemble to shine through.
That spotlight definitely shines brightest for Angela Bassett, who delivers a powerhouse performance worthy of the highest praise and one that rivals the very strength of Vibranium. In light of all that has taken place in Wakanda, Bassett’s Queen Ramonda stands tall and doesn’t back down even in the darkest of times. Leading into this performance, Queen Ramonda’s influence as a supporting character has always had a beautiful part to play in the narrative, but this performance breaks beyond that, elevating Bassett into the leading lady this franchise so rightfully deserves, shattering all expectations and bringing home a truly Oscar worthy performance.
Everything she touches is absolute gold. Giving Bassett the reigns and giving her a chance to lead this film has honestly been one of the best decisions Marvel Studios has ever had, and a true indication of how multifaceted these stories can be.
It’s not just about cool action sequences, cutting edge graphics, or pushing the edge of modern technology, it’s about the heart and soul of the human condition, showcasing the voices that deserve a chance to be heard, and giving way to a message that resonates beyond the decorum of the medium it is presented. Bassett, along with Wright, Lupita Nyong’o, and Danai Gurira were the perfect choices to bring Wakanda Forever the beating heart needed to push Marvel into new territory. It works beautifully!
Though that isn’t all that can be said, as Wakanda Forever pushes even further with the introduction of Tenoch Huerta as the illusive Namor, bringing a whole world of indigenous culture to life from the shadows, and in the end, acts as a perfect parallel for the Wakandans. Very similarly, Namor’s people have spent generations hidden from the rest of the world, with their own claim to technological and mystical powers that stem from the very precious metal that Wakanda has weaved into their society and identity.
Though, unlike Shuri and the people of Wakanda, Namor does not have the same benevolent desire to coexist with the rest of the world as it evolves from the events of the first film. What this leads to is an incredible matchup of might and power, raising the stakes in a performance that stands up proudly and opens the door for a whole new era of storytelling in the MCU. Though, as this is a spoiler free endeavor, you will just have to see the film for yourself to see what Namor will unleash.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever debuts exclusively in theaters on November 11th!