The sequel to 2018's blockbuster Black Panther is here, but does it live up to expectations?
After the success of Black Panther, which received a total of seven Oscar nominations and won three of them, there were, of course, certain expectations for the sequel. But can expectations be fulfilled after Chadwick Boseman's tragic death?
When Boseman passed away in 2020, plans for the Black Panther sequel were forced to be put on hold. How could one continue without him? It was decided quite quickly that he would neither be replaced by another actor nor digitally inserted into the film (as was done with Leia in Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker after Carrie Fisher's death). With that decision made, however, the story had to be rewritten quite a bit, which is why the film was postponed for several months.
That now gives us a movie where King T'Challa is dead. While Wakanda mourns its king and protector, other countries see their chance to attack the country in different ways, now that it has openly shown the world what a powerful nation it is, mainly thanks to being the only country in the world that has access to the metal vibranium.
Some of the inhabitants of Talocan are blue.
As Wakanda is not entirely happy to share vibranium with the rest of the world, it is also sought elsewhere, and that is when you unknowingly awaken a sleeping bear with the potential to be just as powerful as Wakanda.
Although the main character from the first film is missing, we see several familiar faces. Angela Bassett is back on the throne as Queen Ramonda after the death of her son, and her daughter Shuri is played by Letitia Wright. Others returning include Danai Gurira as Okoye, Lupita Nyong'o as Nakia, and Winston Duke reprising his role as M'Baku.
We get to see even more familiar faces, one of whom was a real surprise for me. However, in order not to spoil anything, I won't mention them here.
In a new film, however, we often see new faces, and this one is no exception. The film's main antagonist, Namor, the leader of the underwater kingdom of Talocan, is played by Mexican actor Tenoch Huerta. Additionally, the multi-talented teenager Riri Williams is portrayed by Dominique Thorne. By the way, Riri is getting her own MCU series on Disney+ next year.
Angela Bassett plays Queen Ramonda.
Among the actors, Angela Bassett and Tenoch Huerta stand out positively as the leaders of their respective kingdoms. However, I am a little disappointed with Letitia Wright as Shuri. I don't think she comes into her own, and the character seems to go in all different directions. Perhaps it's mostly the director Ryan Coogler's fault, or maybe it's simply meant to be that way. If we get to see more of her in the future, hopefully, the character will have grown.
Sound and picture
The fact that the film looks fantastic is something you take for granted these days, especially when it comes to the special effects. However, I don't know if it's Cooglers's unfamiliarity with filming anamorphic that made a couple of scenes feel a bit blurry, but maybe the blame should fall on the cinematographer. Still, it's nothing that disturbs the film as a whole.
The music is also good, and just like in the first film, it's Swedish composer Ludwig Göransson who holds the conductor's baton. He won an Oscar for Black Panther, but I don't think he will repeat that feat, even though stranger things have happened. Of course, the sound effects are also top-notch, which is another aspect that is usually taken for granted along with the visual effects.
It is a long film and even though the length of the movie does not seem like a major problem, it could have probably been shortened a bit. At the same time, I understand that when you have to introduce not only a new character like Namor but also a completely new people and kingdom in the already vast Marvel universe, you need time. Furthermore, you have to pay homage to the dead King, introduce a new Black Panther, and tell a larger story.
Tenoch Huerta as the film's antagonist Namor.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is in many ways a good action movie, and maybe I will look at it differently in the future. At the moment, however, it feels like something is missing. And that something is exactly what it is: the absence of Chadwick in the lead role. He had a weight and a presence that unfortunately, no one else in the film comes close to, and when the Black Panther in this film shouts "Wakanda forever", it just sounds like a hollow echo.
The strongest scenes in the film are also those that look back on and pay tribute to Boseman's Black Panther. When the Marvel intro, specially adapted for this film, rolls at the beginning, I must admit that my eyes couldn't help but tear up. Therefore, I think the film feels more like a tribute to Boseman than a typical Marvel film, but it probably couldn't have been done any other way.
Today, November 11th marks the opening of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever in theaters. Although it may not be one of the MCU's better films, it is still worth watching on the big screen if you are a Marvel fan.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever gets the score 6 out of 10.