Film Review: “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”


Screengrab from: "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever"

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is Marvel Studio’s latest film and was released on Nov. 11 2022. The sequel to Ryan Coogler’s smash hit in 2018 follows the nation of Wakanda struggling after the loss of their king.

Cassandra Bauer, Film Reviewer

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”, the highly anticipated sequel to Ryan Coogler’s 2018 smash hit, pays tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman who originally donned the persona of the titular character.

As the nation of Wakanda is grieving the loss of their king T’Challa, the rest of the world is attempting to exploit their source of Vibranium, a rare mineral seemingly only found in Wakanda. After being overtaken by the Dora Milaje, the CIA and U.S. Navy Seals put their efforts into seeking Vibranium elsewhere. 

Utilizing a Vibranium detecting machine created by MIT student and tech prodigy Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne), they find the powerful metal deep underwater. Upon finding it, they are met with a losing battle from the hidden aquatic kingdom of Talokan. This new threat, led by Namor who his people call the “Feathered Serpent God”, has villainous intentions of destroying the colonizing surface world. Shuri (Letitia Wright) the princess of Wakanda then has to attempt to save her people and the rest of the surface world.

If I’ve lost you, don’t worry, I’m a little lost too. This movie has a lot of ideas at play. Underneath the convoluted plot, there is a moving story about grief and loss, but you have to dig through all of the franchise expectations to find it. Marvel injects its movies with cheap sarcastic banter, just enough references to its past films to hold on to its dedicated fanbase and vague nods to potential future projects, sometimes at the expense of a good story. 

On top of that, there are far too many characters to keep track of. Every time someone new came on screen I had to ask myself “Am I supposed to know who that is?” In order to understand some parts of this movie, you have to be very invested in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But if you are this invested in everything Marvel has been putting out, there are some details to note for the future. 

One thing the film is abundant in is its numerous strong female leads. They are refreshing and welcomed in the male-dominated world of superheroes. (Screengrab from: “Black Panther”)

But with that being said, if you’re willing to put aside all the small side characters that are forced into the movie, and the occasional cringe moment of dialogue, there is a good story here. There is a unique and complex villain that feels different from many of Marvel’s stale one-note antagonists. Numerous strong female leads are refreshing and welcomed in the male-dominated world of superheroes. Shuri and her new sidekick of sorts, Riri Williams, who are both smart young black women, I hope will have a bright future in the following iterations of the franchise. Most notably the film provides a somber story about grief as Wakanda loses its king, Shuri loses her brother and we lose a great actor.

Ryan Coogler delivers another box office success for the MCU, but “Wakanda Forever” does not have the same cultural impact that its predecessor brought to the world. If only Coogler’s version of Wakanda’s story could be told without the Marvel Machine weighing it down. 

Watch “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” in theaters now.