Source: Marvel Studios
T’Challa has fallen. And Ramonda has to reprise her role as queen. Wolves are at the gate, licking their chops at a chance to pilfer and pillage Wakanda’s Vibranium. When Wakanda is at its most vulnerable, another powerful rival emerges. But Ramonda and Shuri have come to the decision that they will not let this new world power have its way.
This viewer is sure no one would disagree that Chadwick Boseman was born to play Black Panther. But just as some actors are born for certain roles, some directors are born to be at the helm of certain films. Ryan Coogler delivers another sensational film at the helm of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
In this one, the tone is different. The first film is a celebration of Black Panther and the broader African culture. This one is a bit somber, as it pays homage to the fallen King T'Challa and the late great Chadwick Boseman. Though his character isn't present, his presence is quite palpable. His passing is the catalyst that jumpstarts the whole story. It permeates through everything, touching characters that are closest to him and those that never even met him.
Letitia Wright delivers a much weightier performance this go-round. Shuri is the darling of the previous film that sparked a petition for her to be the newest Disney princess. But that Shuri is gone. She leaves when her brother, T'Challa, falls. Gone are the jokes and joviality of the princess that doesn't have a care in the world. In their stead, is the sting of loss and the feelings of vengeance she has to balance against what is best for her people.
Angela Bassett is always powerful. Ramonda, the fierce queen, must keep the wolves at bay and protect a kingdom that has no protector. She has to be strong for her people, who have lost their king and the Black Panther. At the same time, she has to mourn her son and worry over her daughter, who admits that she wants to see the world burn.
Winston Duke's portrayal of M'Baku is a little more subdued in this film. That makes sense. His goal changes. In the first film, he is an agitator and early antagonist for T'Challa. And he means to teach the brother-sister upstarts, T'Challa and Shuri, some respect for tradition.
But M'Baku sees Shuri differently now. He sees a tremendous loss and how it weighs on her. There is a level of respect that he gives her for being able to stand on her own two feet despite what life has thrown at her. She has paid her dues in his eyes. He only wishes to guide her, so he can keep her on the righteous path—one that does not lead to her or her people's destruction.
In some ways, Namor is a reflection character for Shuri. Her thoughts and feelings are things that he has already acted on. He is drawn to Shuri and vice versa, perhaps, because of the loss they both suffer. But Namor will not tolerate what Wakanda has. He knows all too well the greed of the surface world and what they'll do to obtain what they covet. Namor would see the surface world burn before he will suffer them injuring his people in any way.
Riri Williams is energy personified. She brings a much-needed levity to the somber tone. This viewer hopes to see much more of her in the MCU.
This is a stunning film that gives Chadwick Boseman a heartfelt goodbye. In other words, Wakanda Forever!