Wakanda Is Forever

The newest addition to the MCU canon rises above the rest of Phase Four

Marvel Entertainment

Ethan Barker, Staff

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is both an incredible superhero movie and a touching tribute to Chadwick Boseman. From the grief-ridden opening funeral of King T’Challa, the loss of Wakanda’s protector is the key plot point of this movie. While the classic superhero movie beats are here, the movie slips beyond the MCU mold, easily ranking as one of the top movies in the series.

This is the best Marvel movie since Spider-Man: No Way Home, which also dealt with loss, albeit in a different way. While the movie could have worked around Boseman’s death by recasting T’Challa, his loss boosts this from what could have been just another formulaic superhero movie into an emotional movie about grief and loss. The gaping hole that T’Challa left is felt in every frame, from the Marvel title card redone as a tribute to Chadwick Boseman to the final credit scene. Angela Bassett offers the most powerful performance of the movie as Queen Ramonda, especially when she is grieving her son. Shuri’s guilt at being unable to save T’Challa’s life is perfectly portrayed by Letitia Wright, and she struggles with this throughout most of the movie. Also, cameos and easter eggs are scattered in a way that doesn’t impede the story too much.

A major plot point of the movie is the Talokans, a race of Mayans who live underwater. K’uk’ulkan, more commonly known as Namor, is a mutant who rules as their king. He’s conflicted, angry, and the best new character of the movie. Another who shines out is Riri Williams, a college student who built a machine to detect vibranium (and an Iron Man suit in her spare time). While she’s mainly introduced to set up her Disney+ series in late 2023, her introduction feels natural. This is something that Marvel has struggled with in Phase Four, with new characters thrown in haphazardly. For example, was having Daredevil fly from New York to LA to pick up his new superhero suit and take a court case in the process the best way to introduce him into the She-Hulk show?

Despite this being one of the best movies of the year, there were a few missteps. Talokan needed more screen time, and Attuma and Namora both deserved more character development. Along with that, Namor’s ankle wings are slightly cheesy, especially when it appears he’s bouncing off the air. However, they’re an essential part of his classic character. M’Baku, Aneka, and other side characters deserve more screen time, which could be explored in a future series on Disney+. With this being a Marvel movie, the classic “chaotic final action scene” is here, and there’s one subplot that feels forced to remind us that this is part of the MCU.

Rising beyond the death of Chadwick Boseman, this movie uniquely deals with grief and loss while still maintaining the classic Marvel feel. The film smashes the extremely high expectations set by fans and critics, and functions as both a tribute to T’Challa and Boseman, turning out to be a perfect sequel to the incredible first film.