Film Review – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022)

films, reviews

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The first Black Panther film was a runaway success that breathed new life into the MCU. It gave more depth to the fantastic character first introduced in Civil War and gave Chadwick Boseman a chance to really make an impression in the Marvel franchise. T’Challa was set to become one of the strongest and most loved characters that these films have produced. You can see how much he meant to people by the reaction to his death in 2020. Marvel film fans mourned his passing to colon cancer. As it was Hollywood, talk quickly turned to what would happen with Black Panther in the future. Some suggested that they could simply recast. There was also talk of digitally recreating Boseman. The most obvious choice was to move Shuri, T’Challa’s sister into the spotlight as she did in the comics. But would this film ever get beyond the sadness of losing its lead actor? I had to find out.

There’s a moment in this film when Angela Bassett’s character, Queen Ramonda, tells her daughter that their time of mourning is over. It’s also Disney’s not s subtle way of saying “let go of the past and give this film a chance”. Not that the film doesn’t honour his legacy. It does a very good job of saying goodbye to T’Challa and Chadwick. This film feels different for so many reasons but it is the emotional weight that sticks out. We’ve seen emotional moments in the MCU before but nothing like this. Understandable given the circumstances. The main cast is on great form here and both Angela Bassett and Letitia Wright offer standout performances. It has a lot to say about grief and loss. We see Shuri and her mother react to T’Challa’s death in very different ways. The Queen turns to spirituality whilst the princess chooses to ignore her pain as best she can. Considering how mixed the MCU films have been recently, this feels more mature when dealing with this huge death.

The rest of the story is pretty standard Marvel. The Wakandan nation is threatened by the underwater nation of Talokan. The threat comes in the form of their leader Namor. Just as Killmonger was a weirdly enigmatic villain, Namor makes some pretty compelling points. He had the potential to be a great villain but he just doesn’t get enough time. A weird thing considering how bloody long this film was. In the end, his major motivation is kind of confusing and doesn’t always fit together. He quickly descends into just another bad buy hellbent on causing chaos. Considering we’ve seen some of the most compelling Marvel antagonists in recent years, it’s a disappointing return to form here. Certainly not the worst but nothing too memorable.

There are some interesting and fun new additions to this film that do bring new life into it. I think Michaela Coel should be in everything, so her presence here was very exciting. I wish she’d had more to do but she had enough time to make an impression. Wakanda Forever might be a long film with a runtime of just under 3 hours. However, it never felt as though anything was given any time to develop. New characters weren’t given enough screen time, particularly figures like Ironheart who are clearly just being introduced for future projects. Instead, there was way too much focus on existing characters like Martin Freeman’s Agent Ross. I love Freeman as much as anyone but he needs to get out of these films.

I know there was a lot of pressure on this film considering everything with Boseman’s death. I just think it got a bit too caught up in trying to please everyone. Yes, I think it was right to make T’Challa such a focus and address his death sensitively. It’s just that this meant the other aspects of the narrative weren’t given as much attention. I feel as though it could have been handled differently. As the film goes on, it just gets messier. It doesn’t help that so much of the later parts of the film relies on CGI, which is at odds with the very grounded opening act. This feels like a fitting tribute to Chadwick Boeseman and gives the impression that the franchise can continue as it is. I just don’t think this is a strong story. Certainly nowhere near the previous Black Panther.

5 thoughts on “Film Review – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s