It’s sad. It’s glorious. It’s about the heart. It’s about the mind. It’s about love. It’s about vengeance. It’s about differences. And it is, above all, about similarities.
A fitting tribute to the first Black Panther film and the man who played it, Chadwick Boseman, written and directed by Ryan Coogler again, Wakanda Forever manages to capture the nobility of a true Marvel hero without the adornments of one.
It is also as political as the last film, if more ham-handed, about how the chips fall in this world. And in reimagining the same should the southern part of the globe have evolved as the more developed one.
Could two nations who have kept the rapaciousness of imperial colonial powers at bay, while knowing the dangers of it, behave differently when the reins are in their hands?
If Wakanda is one of those two countries, the other is Talokan, formed by a people who have been forced undersea in the Mesoamerican area by Spanish conquistadors. Also in possession of the much-coveted-of-all minerals Vibranium, like Wakanda, Talokan threatens to be as big a power as its counterpart.
While Wakanda wants the world, which has been eyeing it since Black Panther’s demise, to leave it alone, Talokan wants to go forth and destroy any chance of the world posing a danger. Do Wakanda and Talokan have to fight it out, or can they be allies?
The film spends genuine time exploring the possibility of peace between peoples pushed to the edges of existence.
Wakanda is led by Queen Ramonda (Bassett), the late Black Panther T’Challa’s mother, as his sister Shuri (Wright) figures out her own powers and limitations. Talokan’s leader Namor (Huerta) is a demi-god with wings on his ankes, pointed ears and a bleeding heart for his people.
On Wakanda’s side, all the levers of dominance lie in the hands of women. If Coogler does not make any concession for box office-friendlier White faces, he makes none either regarding women as heroes of his story, with no men around to soften the blows. In fact, Ramonda’s reaction at realising that Shuri might be under threat is as different as it gets from a King’s might be – she does not pretend that the loss of family is tempered by duty.
And while human emotions are at the heart of it — anchored by some great acting from all parties concerned, but especially Wright, Bassett and Gurira as Wakanda’s General Okoye — the action too is impressive. On the ground or in water, on a ship or in the air, the film flies.
If anything, Wakanda Forever is perhaps too intent on keeping it sad and solemn, with repeated references to T’Challa’s – or in other words, Chadwick Boseman’s — sudden passing.
Wakanda Forever is a farewell Wakanda the kingdom can be proud of. But, as the film itself says, there is a time to let go.
Black Panther Wakanda Forever movie cast: Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Angela Bassett, Tenoch Huerta, Dominique Thorne
Black Panther Wakanda Forever movie director: Ryan Coogler
Black Panther Wakanda Forever movie rating: 4 stars