Film: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Cast: Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong’o, Dania Gurira, Winston Duke, Tenoch Huerta, Martin Freeman, Dominique Throne
Director: Ryan Coogler
Rating: 3.5 Moons
Wakanda, the most powerful country in Marvel Cinematic Universe, is mourning the loss of its king, T'Challa (late Chadwick Boseman), or the mighty 'Black Panther'. Opening the gates to the country again, director Ryan Coogler puts a beating heart into the story in the right place in the sequel to Black Panther. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a befitting, slow-burning, and captivating tribute to Chadwick who passed away in 2020 after a long battle with cancer.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever takes forward the franchise after Chadwick's demise and the pain is felt. It opens with King T’Challa losing his life to 'an undisclosed illness'. The loss of the King puts forth an important question with respect to who could be the new Black Panther. But the melancholic atmosphere in Wakanda is yet to settle down. T'Challa's mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett) leads the country while grieving her son's untimely demise. Shuri (Letitia Wright) finds it difficult to move on from the guilt of not being able to save her brother with the powers and gifts of technology that she possesses. While agony and vengeance are tougher enemies to fight, the Wakandans have to prepare for a new battle as other countries have their eyes on Vibranium. Amid this, they must face Namor (Tenoch Huerta), king of the ancient civilisation Talokan.
Little do the Wakandans know that trouble could surface not just from the land but from the water too. The king of the unexplored underwater realm tries to make a deal with Ramonda to partner with Wakanda and wage a war to protect Vibranium and his own kingdom. The matriarch and the princess of the country are left to take the call. What follows next is a thrill ride and a heartachingly beautiful tribute to the legacy of Chadwick and Black Panther.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has a funereal tone persistently running in the background. Wakanda is mourning and that is made to feel throughout. Taking the legacy of T'Challa forward, the makers constantly remind you that though the king has died, the Black Panther lives on. In one of the most satisfying sequels ever made by Marvel, the audience gets to feel a certain degree of heaviness and melancholy when the on-screen characters go through the exact emotions.
It is a mammoth task to pull off a sequel so anticipated. Making it a visual marvel, director Ryan Coogler injects some jaw-dropping underwater sequences. The scale of fight sequences is upped and has the potential to keep you on the edge of your seat. It is no surprise who's the new Black Panther but I'll leave it here for you to enjoy that revelation moment yourself in theatres. The film is 2 hours 41 minutes long and it certainly does justice to the duration by making it a slow watch, at least initially. It takes its own time to go from point A to point B which causes the thrill and excitement to drop for a while. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is loaded with several subplots and feels overcrowded at a point. Nonetheless, the overall experience is enough to ignore these flaws.
Introducing a newly-discovered civilisation in the depths of the ocean, director Ryan traces the evolution and growth of Shuri from being a technologically-driven princess to actually taking charge of the country and putting herself in a place where she has to take tough decisions. Shuri has to be one of the richest and deepest (in terms of characterisation) characters in the history of MCU. Lending life to the character, Letitia Wright carries the franchise on her shoulder. She will make you empathise with Shuri and feel the tsunami of grief and angst she is dealing with internally.
Angela Bassett is the soul of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. She brings a certain degree of calmness and stability to the narrative as the queen who is battling a lot within herself while ruling the kingdom. Tenoch Huerta makes a solid entry as Namor. While he is introduced as the antagonist, the character's arc will instantly establish a connection with the audience for all the good reasons.
If you are a true Marvel fan, sit back and be surprised by what the makers have to show in the post-credit scene. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, despite being a slow burn and a few minutes longer, will stay back with you for a long time. Black Panther lives on forever!
PeepingMoon gives Black Panther: Wakanda Forever 3.5 Moons