- Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong'o, Martin Freeman
- Written by
- Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole
- Directed by
- Ryan Coogler
- Run Time
- 2 hrs. 40 min.
- Release Date
- November 11th, 2022
Coming up with a sequel to any successful film is a difficult challenge in it of itself. But writer/director Ryan Coogler and his team were faced with an even more monumental task. How to move forward with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever without its star Chadwick Boseman who we lost tragically two years ago to colon cancer. The effort would require to both, honor his memory and at the same time propel forward the ever-moving Marvel Cinematic Universe as it wraps up Phase Four. This is without a doubt the most challenging sequel to date.
After the tragic loss of King T’Challa his young sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) buries herself in her work. As her mother, Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) has taken the role of diplomat in order to keep their vibranium out of the hands of countries who want to exploit it. After a failed attempt to obtain the precious mineral from the Wakandans the CIA helps to search for other possible deposits of vibranuim on the ocean floor. It is here where they encounter a race of beings that live under water and are led by Namor (Tenoch Huerta Mejía). Intent on keeping their existence secret Namor informs Shuri and Ramonda that they need to get to a teen genius named Riri (Dominique Thorne) before the military does or he will raise his army against the surface world.
It seems most of the interweaving storylines and globe-trotting of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever take a backseat to the true theme of the film. How we deal with grief. Some drown themselves in their work, some do everything they can to honor their loss, and others run away. None are presented as wrong, but as paths that can be taken and where they lead us, sometimes right back to facing the very grief we were trying to avoid. It’s a very powerful film in that regard, and the most unlike any other entires into the MCU. Director Coogler leans on his cast of mostly women to bring the heavy emotions along with the brilliant action throughout the film. The score by Ludwig Gōransson much in line with the film is unlike most other Marvel films, it’s unique and blends in with songs and sounds imbedded in the cultures that are represented. The MVP of the film is veteran Bassett who takes the not just the throne of her husband and son with poise but also the intensity of the ruler of a kingdom as well. And the comic book lover in me appreciated the handling of Namor, as he like in the pages is not flat out evil but is still capable of intense darkness.
Unlike most sequels Wakanda Forever forgoes the “bigger and louder than the last one” formula and instead focuses on a more intimate and personal vibe that is well earned. Amidst the barrage of super heroes all over the big and small screen, I applaud Coogler and co. for taking a chance on a film like this and for closing out Phase Four with class and style.