By Ellie Boyd
When the second Black Panther film was announced I’m sure the major question for all Marvel fanatics was “who is going to be our new Black Panther?” Will the nation of Wakanda ever have the same substance and importance in the Marvel universe without the presence of the late Chadwick Boseman?- who I believe was born for the role. All is finally revealed after a patient wait and it’s safe to say there is much to dissect.
Considering Ryan Coogler was met with the challenge of directing a new Black Panther film with the loss of an established and truly loved icon for the role, I can safely say this man delivered Wakanda Forever in a beautiful way that should be commended. From both start to the end of the film, Chadwick Boseman’s death is recognised and alluded to being the great loss that it is, adding a real human element to the action packed fantasy world Marvel films are known for.
I can now understand why many audience members have taken to twitter to disclose that if any Black Panther fans have current or long-lasting struggles with grief and loss, they should be wary or delay seeing the movie as of yet. I was crying within the first minute and from grief experience of my own, it really hit home. However, I am glad that tribute was paid to such a wonderful actor and character, even down to the stunning mural of Chadwick Boseman that we are met with from the movie’s offset.
My favourite aspect of the movie was the strength within the African culture, with everything from music to costume, as well as the presence of a strong black female cast. We are met with a particularly outstanding performance from Angela Bassett as Queen of Wakanda who displays both a protective mother and fierce fighter. I will always be in awe of the beauty and grace of Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia and really as a human being in general, I mean look at her WOW. Dominque Thorne’s performance as ‘The Scientist’ and or Ironheart added great humour, especially with the dynamic between Shuri, Okoye and herself in some of the brilliant tension filled scenes. The theme of strong black female was mainly represented in the movie through Letitia Wright as Shuri, Black Panther’s younger sister. The film focuses on Shuri’s growth through grief and feeling it is now up to her to take control, setting her up to take on the hardest task of all- becoming the new Black Panther.
When I became aware of the decision to make Shuri the new Black Panther at first I felt very unsure. I love the idea of female power in superhero movies, however, with Shuri always being the brains behind much of the technology side of things, I wasn’t sure how her character was going to make such a shift into the more difficult action side. Chadwick Boseman always displayed such an effortless cool demeanor towards the action in the first film, an act not easy to achieve- or to follow. However, the fact the film sets it up as though Shuri felt the need to step up acknowledges that she was NOT born for the role but does so for her people, an idea that I have grown to love- and I’m sure Chadwick would be delighted with this choice too.
Like with any new Marvel film, there’s got to be a force driving the action, a new villain, well in this case there could be about three considering he goes by so many names. Namor or ‘The Fish Man’ which he is often jokingly referred to by opposing characters, is a very intriguing villain that we are fed almost everything about on a silver platter, from his backstory to his motives behind his wrongdoings. I often prefer a villain to have more mystery surrounding their character to give a sense of unpredictability but I did not mind this beautiful man’s great amount of screen time in the slightest. The world building with the underwater nation of Talokan is fantastic, like a toxic Atlantis but just as beautiful. I look forward to seeing more of the people of Talokan and Namor as a result of the movie.
Overall, I would rate Black Panther: Wakanda Forever a 7.5/10 as I adored what they achieved with the absence of a truly brilliant Black Panther and although I believe it cannot top the original, it does a wonderful job at attempting to fill the hole in our hearts through a united Wakanda and a fantastic actress carrying on his legacy of the Black Panther.