Tears, tributes and a troubled storyline

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is, by all means, a decent movie that just happens to falter in places when compared to its predecessor.

One of the features that made the first ‘Black Panther’ (2018) stands out for its freedom from having to weave its core story into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It was a refreshing new story: a secretive and surprisingly advanced African nation derives its superhuman power from its guard of a super-metal, vibranium. Tribal hierarchies, rivalries, a family at the helm of power, and a common goal of fighting white settlers gave this film its soul. Perhaps the only connection to the film and the rest of the universe was the presence of Ulysses Klaw.

In this context, one cannot help but wonder if ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022)’ is just one way to fully integrate the franchise with that of its MCU cousins. For example, there seems to be a contrived attempt to reference the blip, Thanos, and cast in future films like Ironheart while planning the future of the Black Panther itself – despite a decent attempt to push forward the enigma after the death of the holder. character at the very beginning of the film. You can’t help but think that the magic of the first movie may have died with Chadwick Boseman.

These attempts aside, the story of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is interesting, even if its screenplay leaves a lot to be desired. The film begins with tears. T’Challa, the reigning Black Panther, has died after suffering an illness, and his sister Shuri (Letitia Wright’s acting is commendable) is racked with guilt that she couldn’t save him. Wakanda has reinstated Ramonda as queen, who must now fend off renewed attempts by the West to secure Vibranium for itself while finding new ways to extract the metal from the ocean.

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We’re also introduced to scientist prodigy Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne) who has designed not just a vibranium detector, but her own version of an Iron Man suit, to battle the bad guys. Meanwhile, a new enemy has arrived – Namor (Tenoch Huerta) leads an underwater Aztec civilization, Talokan, who not only have access to vibranium, but are also keen to wage all-out war on the surface world in repair of the bloody colonization inflicted on their people. To succeed in destroying humanity, Namor and his Talokan people want to forge an alliance with Wakanda – an offer that is made as a threat as opposed to an equal partnership.

As much as Boseman’s absence is felt, the best part of ‘Wakanda forever’ it is also the absence of a widely recognized protagonist. The void has the potential for girl power to take center stage in all its glory. It also lives up to that expectation as Shuri, Riri, Okoye, and Nakia unite to fight Namor (although it’s safe to say that Lupita Nyong’o like Nakia could have done with a little more space inside). screen). The requirement for the element of continuity comes to the fore here, as the film seems to go to great lengths to establish Riri’s Ironheart story arc for future movies.

Then there is also your dose of emotion. A cold open followed by a silent montage of Boseman versus Marvel’s branding is poignant and heartbreaking, as is another silent, tear-filled tribute near the end. You feel Shuri’s pain as she mourns her brother, and the general air of loss in the film is ever-present. “Bury your dead, mourn your losses,” a menacing Namor also says, almost as if addressing us, the audience. The film’s depiction of grief in a real yet artistic way is its redeeming feature.

While Shuri makes a great black panther, even going so far as to shatter the character’s gender barrier, you can’t help but want more from the action sequences. Sure, Namor leaving the dark ocean to battle the Wakandans in the air before he rips through their dragon flyers is breathtaking to say the least, but you can’t help but think there’s so much more action than director Ryan Coogler could have squeezed out of the film.

There’s the frustrating but familiar lack of proper lighting as we discover parts of the Talokan Kingdom, which lie deep beneath the ocean (some episodes of Game Of Thrones and House Of The Dragon were reviewed in this review) . Even still, the tapestry of Namor’s world is still much better than the Wakanda we see in this film, which seems to lack the futuristic, cutting-edge architecture that came to define it in Black Panther (2018). In fact, some scenes even went so far as to show Wakandans, dressed in everyday clothes, going about their daily lives as people from other countries and cities would – kind of shattering this image of a race. advance rooted in an indigenous culture that the first film established.

Don’t be put off by these limitations. “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is, by all means, a decent movie that fails in places when compared to its predecessor. A post-credits surprise goes a long way to setting you up for more action to come (conscious integration with the MCU, remember?) and you can’t help but view the film as a necessary stepping stone to hopefully better visual narratives as the years go by.