“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”: An emotional but exciting sequel 


2018’s “Black Panther” was a cultural sensation. Not only did it become the fourth highest grossing film all-time domestically (it has since been passed by “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and “Top Gun: Maverick”) and earn over $1.3 billion worldwide, it won three Academy Awards. “Black Panther” launched into the top ranks of the Marvel ethos, certifying Chadwick Boseman as a superstar in the process. 

In August of 2020, tragedy struck. Boseman passed away from colon cancer, leaving Marvel without its mighty King T’Challa and the acting world without one of the greatest performers of the 21st century. 

This left director Ryan Coogler in a difficult position, figuring out how to take the franchise forward without its fearless leader. 

Ultimately, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” prevails in that regard, as Coogler and co. succeed in continuing the story of Wakanda. 

The film is an emotional one, diving into grief and loss in greater depth than any Marvel project has previously. With powerful performances, beautiful production and costume design, an evocative musical score and visual imagery, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” has scenes that can be described as works of art. 

That being said, there are some structural problems to this film. 

For one, the pacing is problematic. The first act is quite long, with almost 90 minutes of runtime allocated to the opening setup. While this is not necessarily problematic in itself, when large chunks of that time are occupied by action scenes that fail to progress the storyline, you inherently create a slow moving storyline. Luckily, due to the variety of characters and environments, the movie never feels boring or dull, but does feel stagnant. 

Additionally, the film does have trouble balancing its tone. It is difficult to explore the hard-hitting concepts of grief and loss in the context of a superhero film, where action and comedy is often at the forefront. While it is not jarring, the movie does sway between tones, making it feel a bit disjointed in parts. 

Combine this with an expansive storyline, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is burdened with many tasks. Coogler and co. do as best they could at accomplishing these goals (exploring grief, introducing new characters and worlds, creating exciting action scenes, etc.) but it is close to an impossible task. 

While fans often clamor for epic tales for the big screen — for good reason, tickets are pricey — this film needed more simplicity. 

Instead of being just a film that explores the loss of a King, “Wakanda Forever” is burdened with setting up several future projects within the Marvel universe. This creates that disjointed plot, those tonal inconsistencies and the ultimate struggle to tell one cohesive story. 

On a positive note, this is a fun movie to watch. While there are many emotional moments, there are countless exciting ones as well. The action scenes and cinematography are much improved from the 2018 film, with some incredible sequences that are meant to be seen on the big screen. Angela Bassett and Letitia Wright both give brilliant performances, delivering the emotional core of the film. Marvel Studios also yet again showcases its biggest strength, the characterization of its heroes. “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” has several heroic moments, which when seen in a crowded theater with the rousing musical score and imagery, are truly inspirational. 

Ultimately, “Wakanda Forever” was given an impossible task — creating a film that has to deliver emotional themes, introduce new worlds and characters and to excite and inspire through action sequences and heroic moments.  

Given that task, Coogler, Marvel Studios, the cast and crew do a brilliant job in execution. The film is not perfect, but it delivers an emotional story along with well-executed action sequences and great character moments. 

For that reason, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” earns a moderately strong recommendation. 

Rating: 4.30/5 

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