Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022) Review | The film magazine

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022) Review |  The film magazine

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022)
Director: Ryan Coogler
Writers: Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole
Starring: Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Angela Bassett, Tenoch Huerta Mejia, Winston Duke, Florence Kasumba, Dominique Thorne, Michaela Coel, Martin Freeman

On August 28, 2020, the world woke up to heartbreaking news that Chadwick Boseman was dead. He was only 43 years old and had been battling cancer in secret for some time. This left Marvel Studios and Black Panther director Ryan Coogler with an unthinkable dilemma: Reframe or acknowledge the in-universe death of one of your most important main characters? They went with the far more respectful second option, and thus the sequel to one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s biggest blockbusters had the added challenge of paying homage to its dear departed star as well as telling a new and expansive story.

A year after the untimely death of her brother King T’Challa, Shuri (Letitia Wright) threw herself into her work to avoid dealing with her grief, leaving her mother, Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), to represent the Wakanda on the world stage as a sovereign. the title of Black Panther vacant. When a new threat emerges in the form of Namor (Tenoch Huerta Mejía), the warrior king of the mighty water nation of Talokan, Shuri must rally her allies and embrace her fate if Wakanda and the nations beyond it have any hope of survival.

The world has changed. The MCU may not have suffered a Coronavirus pandemic, but half of it was taken out over five years by intergalactic tyrant Thanos. Friends and loved ones were torn apart, including Ramonda who lost both of her children to “The Blip” and was reunited with them briefly after the events of Avengers: Finale only to lose his son again to human mortality. In the absence of heirs to the throne, hungry eyes have been turned on Wakanda and UN member states have raided them for their precious deposits of metallic vibranium. Everything comes to a head when the previously unknown Talokanil people attack the surface world to protect their own vibranium reserves, prompting the isolationist Wakandans to act on their own.

Tragic circumstances have promoted Black PantherThe memorable supporting cast to the protagonists, and all members of the ensemble are given new depths and many interesting things to do. One of the best things about the first Black Panther that’s how she saw T’Challa rely on a close support network of family and friends to effectively fulfill his role as a superhero, and it’s these same darlings: Shuri, Ramonda, the love of T’Challa’s life Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), and loyal bodyguard Okoye (Danai Gurira), who are tasked with carrying on her legacy as best they can.

Ultimately, for all its spectacular multi-layered action and dazzling depictions of hidden futurist worlds inspired by African and Mesoamerican cultures (much respect to returning production designer Hannah Beachler here), this is a film about legacy and mother need to give a future to her children. Namor’s origins are told through the lens of his mother’s experiences in 16th-century Mexico, and in one of the film’s key scenes, a particularly powerful and distraught Angela Bassett takes the floor in her throne room to illuminate the pain he went through. Coogler and Joe Robert Cole’s screenplay can be too revealing at times, but right now Ramonda’s assembled audience needs to be told in no uncertain terms.

Namor shouldn’t work in live-action. Surprisingly, though, in the capable hands of a charismatic Huerta and Marvel’s digital artists (aside from a couple of dodgy CG transition shots), this winged-footed merman is actually made to look pretty cool and scary. Nicknamed K’uk’ulkan by his people after the serpent deity Maya, Namor commands an army nearly as invulnerable as the ocean itself, and thus every creature that inhabits it becomes a weapon in his hands. In a particularly striking image taken directly from the “Avengers vs. X-Men“comic plot, the capital of Wakanda feels the full force of Namor’s wrath and, like the best antagonists in the MCU how Black Pantheris Killmonger, he is both terrifying and fully understandable in his worldview. Why should the colonial nations of the world feel entitled to the resources of two small but advanced nations that have kept to themselves for centuries?

The film is long, at just over 2 hours and 40 minutes it is the second longest in the MCU after the Phase 3 finale Game over. Though it could possibly do with some tightening here and there, and less”Lord of the Rings ending syndrome” into its final minutes, there’s a sizable set of characters to serve here, not to mention the need to close out Phase 4 of the MCU, create new characters who will have big parts to play in the future (such as the genius teenager Riri Williams/Ironheart, played by Dominque Thorne) and, of course, paying homage to Chadwick Boseman — it’s hard to see where the cuts could go.

The main problem, other than having to balance respect for an unexpectedly departed star with moving a franchise and its characters forward, is that the slightly unwieldy script is very stop-start-stop-start. The world-building may be increasingly elegant, the story gear shift less obvious, but the character work is spot on and there are plenty of individual moments in the film (from the intimate to the epic) that will stay with you.

Wakandan forever has the unenviable task of eulogizing deceased loved ones and setting a long-running franchise on the road to its future. Chadwick Boseman tragically died before his time and so this film does the rare thing of showing that superheroes may be stronger, faster and more powerful than us, but most are not immune to disease and pain. Ryan Coogler’s film does as much as one might reasonably expect in balancing many disparate elements, and while this undoubtedly ended up as a very different film than it started out in, Wakandan forever creates a heartfelt connection and delivers memorable action in spades as well as some of the best performances in the entire MCU.

19/24

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