After the offscreen death of King T'Challa the Black Panther, the world thinks Wakanda is vulnerable to attack. As foreign powers seek to plunder the mighty African nation's supply of Vibranium, another secret kingdom from the depths of the ocean with its own supply of the miraculous metal - and the will to use it - reveals itself.
Will the undersea God-King Namor (played wonderfully by Tenoch Huerta) come to the aid of the Wakandans in their time of great suffering, or will he be their worst nightmare?
In the wake of the untimely death of Chadwick Boseman, The Marvel brass made the controversial decision to let T'Challa die with him. And so Wakanda Forever became the story of T'Challa's family reeling in the wake of his death, and Shuri's ascension to take up the mantle of the Black Panther.
The veteran actress earned a Golden Globe for her return as the Queen Mother Ramonda, and an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress as well.
Ramonda presents an unbreakable matriarch to the international forces plotting on her nation's resources. Her facade only cracks behind closed doors where we are reminded that she never fully recovered from the loss of her husband, nor has she forgotten that many of the tribes sided with Killmonger when he usurped the throne. Bassett perfectly and beautifully captures Ramonda's strength, as well as her pain.
Danai Gurira returns as the mighty Okoye, General of the Dora Milaje, and Wakanda's fiercest warrior. In addition to several good fight sequences, the script of Wakanda Forever gives Okoye many opportunities to show humor, regret, and anguish.
If the Marvel decision-makers are smart, they'll figure out ways to expand the role of Nakia in the greater MCU. Other than Bassett, Nyongo has more untapped charismatic potential than any of the actors in the Black Panther franchise. I came into the movie a little sad that Nakia would not be the one taking the heart-shaped herb after T'Challa's demise. Any time her character is on the screen, she owns it.
Wakanda Forever introduces us to a new character: Riri Williams, played by Dominique Thorne. Williams invents a machine that can detect Vibranium, earning her a spot on Namor's shitlist and a visit from the Wakandans. The young inventor's device serves as a nice macguffin to get the story moving in the first act, and her character arc sets the stage for her upcoming Disney+ show, Ironheart.
If you found yourself questioning whether Wright had the chops to carry this movie, surrounded by charismatic powerhouse actresses like Nyongo, Gurira, and Bassett... You were not alone.
I was VERY concerned.
After all, when Wright was cast, it was to play sidekick to Chadwick Boseman's Panther. Even though longtime comics readers like myself already knew Shuri eventually becomes the Black Panther upon T'Challa's demise, we didn't expect it to actually happen on the big screen. Especially so soon. But like Shuri herself, Wright shows herself up to the task. T'Challa's death turns the plucky young tech wizard into a leader who must master her own emotions and defeat foes who close in from all sides.
One of my favorite characters from the Black Panther films is M'Baku, Lord of the White Gorilla Clan. After being a rival of T'Challa with a naked disdain for Shuri in the first movie, Lord M'Baku's disrespect is mostly directed at others in this one. In fact, Shuri and Ramonda find nothing but an ally in M'Baku in Wakanda Forever.
Many fans objected to the decision to lay T'Challa to rest rather than recast him. It's not what I would have done, but I'm fine with it. As it is, director and co-writer Ryan Coogler delivered a satisfying story that sets up the opportunity to explore these characters and their place in the Marvel Universe in the future.
If you haven't seen it already, Wakanda Forever is available for streaming on Disney+ right now.
Written by Tyger Ra-Seth Moore and Corance Davis.
Art by Pitch
Cover by Owen Charles
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