“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is easily one of the strongest films to come out within this fourth phase of Marvel movies, marking the final film release of the phase. However, as most films do, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” has both its highs and lows and I’ll be looking over the film to point them out.
With the recent and unfortunate death of Chadwick Boseman, who passed in 2020 from colon cancer. He starred in the first “Black Panther” film as T’Challa, the Black Panther, many adjustments had to be made, which delayed the release of this film. “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” serves as a perfect way to honor the life and legacy of Boseman, with the classic Marvel intro that played before the film all dedicated to the actor. The film starts with the passing of T’Challa, who dies from an undisclosed disease. The focus is set on Shuri, T’Challa’s sister, who we follow throughout most of the film. Immediately, the film tackles the theme of grief and dealing with it.
As for how the film’s production and execution were handled, most aspects of the film were improved upon in comparison to its predecessor, “Black Panther” (2018). One of the more notable aspects is the CGI. I also loved the cinematography and choreography of the fight scenes in this movie. There are definitely some creative shots being implemented, which is great to see, especially since I feel recent Marvel projects have been lacking any creative camera work when it comes to action sequences. And of course, the soundtrack choices continue to deliver some amazing picks.
The film has a full run time of about 2 hours and 40 minutes, making it the longest film of phase four, just a couple minutes longer than Marvel’s “Eternals” (2021). The film runs at a pretty slow pace, with lots of dialogue, a pretty stark contrast to the faster-paced “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” (2022). It still roughly sticks to the formulaic Marvel plots that we have become accustomed to in recent years of “something tragic happens in a character’s past and then they come back to end the world” type of thing, but it still does a great job in being unique. I think that the slow pace suits the film quite well, as the characters are given more time to develop. However, I think the film’s overall duration could have easily been shortened. Some of the subplots are unnecessary, really only acting as classic Marvel comedic relief without adding to the story. When it came to character moments, there was some great writing there. As a dialogue-heavy film, Ryan Coogler does a phenomenal job of evoking emotion in his characters, and on top of that, the performances from some of the lead characters were terrific, especially Angela Bassett, who plays the Queen of Wakanda.
Now, the content of this film pushes many themes and ideas. I mentioned before the theme of grief, which is everpresent. Some other themes are culture, resilience, and the impact of colonialism. The main antagonist to Shuri, and by extension, Wakanda in this film is Kukulkan, the king of Talokan. At each of their cores, the countries of Wakanda and Talokan are similar, which is where a parallel is drawn between the two. However, their main differences are how they operate. The inclusion of the Talkokanians as antagonists was a great choice for the film overall. They provided a form of symbolism and brought meaning, while also serving as a legitimate threat to Wakanda, which up until now, never had any real threat. While they served as great villains/antagonists, I feel as if they weren’t fleshed out enough as a whole. The same goes for the final act, it was the only real rushed part of the movie.
Overall, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is a great film that you should give a chance. It really is a passion project, and you can really tell that it’s not just a corporate film that got pushed out for the sake of being pushed out. It serves as a perfect sendoff for the character of “Black Panther” and Chadwick Boseman. I give it an 8/10.