Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022) Review

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Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022) Review 5
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022)
IMDB: LINK
Director(s): Ryan Coogler
Actor(s): Tenoch Huerta, Angela Bassett, Danai Gurira
Film Genre(s): Action , Drama
Running Time: 161 min
CGM Editors Choice

It has been about four years since Black Panther was first released in theatres in 2018. Of course, the late Chadwick Boseman portrayed the character earlier in 2016 in Captain America: Civil War. While Boseman’s untimely passing was a tragic moment both on-screen and off-screen, his magic, charm and vivacious tenacity for his mantle of the titular T’Challa/Black Panther character. He will always be remembered as a pivotal staple in cinematic history for many generations.

The story of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever immediately began with Shuri trying to save her brother but ultimately, she could not save King T’Challa from his death. As the family mourned his death, other world powers saw the opening of an unguarded Wakanda—with no Black Panther to stand in their way. Queen Ramonda, Shuri, M’Baku, War Dog Nakia, Everett Ross, Okoye and the Dora Milaje must band together to defend Wakanda from its invaders both known and unknown.

While the invaders target Wakanda for its vibranium resources, a new mysterious Mexican/Mayan civilization of Talokan awoken from the depths of the sea. The film introduced the iconic Marvel Comics character, Namor, who, in the film, took on another mythic name, “K’uk’ulkan, the Feather Serpent God.”

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Letitia Wright as Shuri in Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2022 MARVEL.

With no more Boseman or the character of T’Challa, the gap to fill his role was insurmountable. And yet, Ryan Coogler was able to steer the narrative heavily revolved around T’Challa, and still allow other characters to shine. Coming out of watching the film, I thoroughly appreciated the attention to a main theme that seemed to carry on with the films that featured the Black Panther: death and revenge.

In Captain America: Civil War, we got to see T’Challa react and absolve himself of rage and revenge with Daniel Brühl’s Baron Zimo. In Black Panther, we saw the noble T’Challa try to save Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger from that same feeling of revenge. In Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, we are able to see how revenge has plagued certain members of the main cast due to death—some more than others.

I found this was a nice culmination of representing and understanding what death means in the Wakandan traditions, and really expanded on their civilization’s customs and beliefs. Even in the saddest moments of the film, there were some superbly shot moments that made me smirk from a cinematography aspect. Do not get me wrong, I was precipitating from my eyelids. But I was still able to revel and empathize with how beautiful and poignant some scenes were captured.

Speaking on the expansion of traditions and handling things thoughtfully, I greatly enjoyed the debut of the new Talokan civilization. Yes, they were blue like the aliens in Avatar (2009), but distinct enough to note they are very different and not derivative in design. There was a backstory with why they are blue and Namor was not, but I will not spoil that for you.

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Tenoch Huerta as Namor in Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2022 MARVEL.

With the movie’s runtime almost reaching three hours, it was able to flesh out the story behind the Talokan civilization, and Namor’s origin delicately well. I felt like the film did a great job encapsulating what needed to be explained without brushing over any key information too fast, or making it seem like a huge information dump.

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has officially marked the climatic end of Phase Four for the Marvel Cinematic Universe”

Not only was Namor and Talokan had a big introduction, the on-screen debut of Dominque Thorne’s Riri Williams aka Ironheart was also fun and refreshing to offset the gloominess of the overarching film mood. Every moment where Riri was involved, it slightly reminded me of when I was first introduced to the charismatic performances of Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark in Iron Man and Tom Holland’s Peter Parker in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Unfortunately, we will have to wait to see more of her in her Disney+ show, but her character easily meshed with the Black Panther squad.

More on pacing, the overall mood of the scenes was quite grim—rightfully justified. However, the film did a great job of ramping up the more light-hearted, comedic scenes at just the right moments. I thought it was on the same level, if not better, than the way Avengers: Endgame began—with almost the whole beginning being dark and downtrodden. But since it was an Avengers movie, it had to still have those quirky jokes mixed in—like when Ant-Man, Captain America and Black Widow eventually visit Bruce aka Smart Hulk for the first time.

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Angela Bassett as Ramonda in Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2022 MARVEL.

I found the pacing in the first Black Panther film to be too fast at times, especially with the way Killmonger only said a couple lines. The couple lines about him choosing to die were supremely powerful, but I felt like I was not feeling the gravitas of the death scene as much as it needed to—along with the limited reactions from T’Challa and the rest of Wakanda. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was able to tweak that pacing issue, and then some.

Every serious moment in this film, I felt the stakes were growing and growing. The tension and political turmoil in this film could have easily beaten most of the convoluted political strife in the Star Wars films. With almost three hours of awesome and beautiful Marvel content, I had so many questions answered, and I had so many questions afterwards. Without spoiling anything, expect the unexpected with some of the cameos.

I cannot wait to see how more of the repercussions of this film and the previous ones evolve for the Wakandans. This was another intelligent, emotionally-filled way to carry on a sequel—while having the burden of expectations set by a previous prestigious protagonist such as Boseman’s T’Challa.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has officially marked the climatic end of Phase Four for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and I cannot wait for what Phase Five will have in store. My best guess would be that things are going to get even darker. One last note: do not forget to stay for the one post-credit scene after the main cast crawl has finished!

Final Thoughts

REVIEW SCORE

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