“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” the closing film in phase four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is a beautiful tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman and a journey through various characters’ grief after Boseman’s T’Challa has passed away. It also features a delightful (if slow in parts) storyline of Wakanda meeting a new society called Talokan that proves a worthy opponent.
Boseman’s absence creates a storyline for Shuri (Letitia Wright) that mirrors that of her brother’s, as she has to deal with many of the decisions her brother had to make.
I went into the movie with high expectations to cry my eyes out … and I was correct. “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” weaves together a storyline that contributes overall to the MCU while also serving as a goodbye to Boseman and his onscreen persona, T’Challa.
After the introductory scene of the movie, the film went dead silent as the recognizable Marvel introduction sequence played, but solely included scenes of Boseman. No theme song was played as they paid tribute to him and his work, creating one of the most impactful moments in the film. This is mirrored at the end of the movie with scenes of Shuri interacting with T’Challa.
Speaking of Shuri, her journey throughout the film made the storyline for me. It made what was meant to be the primary storyline (Talokan coming out of hiding to fight Wakanda) secondary in my mind. Wright did a spectacular job of showcasing the grief experienced when losing family members and how much it can cloud your mind.
I also enjoyed how the filmmakers showcased Shuri’s struggle to connect with her culture in the modern age. Something the “Black Panther” franchise has always done magnificently is showcasing culture, and the audience has seen Shuri in the past as “a child who scoffs at tradition.”
The struggle of honoring tradition and culture while also wanting to connect with the present is something many audience members can connect with. By the end, you can see how Shuri has found a way to merge both new and old to honor her culture and traditions. I could have watched an entire film of just that and ignored the primary storyline, which just didn’t seem as impactful. Nonetheless, it was necessary to elicit character development in the movie.
The Talokan storyline was good though slightly dull and definitely reawakened my fear of the ocean. I do wish the movie had come with some form of trigger warning for the audience. Many leap into the ocean to their death during the movie due to the siren powers of the Talokan warriors. This occurs several times throughout the film, and it’s hard to watch. This could be triggering to audience members who aren’t prepared for it.
Aside from that, there wasn’t much I disliked about the film. The cinematography and outfits (oh my god, the outfits) were an art in itself and made the movie visually pleasing in every way possible. Wakanda and Talokan are gorgeous cities, each deeply rooted in culture, and made me want to take a tour (except for maybe Talokan, but only because it's deep underwater and that’s terrifying).
All in all, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” met my expectations of making me cry and was a fitting closeout to phase four of the MCU.
Elizabeth Secor is a beat reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @esecor2003
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