Losing a loved one is always difficult, but with some help and support, we get through it in our own time, at our own pace. Wakanda Forever is a movie about saying goodbye to loved ones while learning to heal and how, sometimes, through our pain, we come out stronger and find our purpose. With the loss of T’Challa, Wakanda and his family are left without a king and protector.
We had high expectations for Wakanda Forever. Not only is it a Marvel film, a brand that often hits the mark cinematically, but the trailer gave us chills when we initially watched it. We also knew this sequel would have its heartbreaking moments.
Wakanda Forever gave us a way to honor the late Chadwick Boseman and show how much he has not only impacted the MCU, but also our world as a whole. We went into the theater expecting to face a deep sense of loss but instead found ourselves celebrating the life of a great man. Chadwick embodied the Black Panther showing us that someone can be so influential yet humble at the same time. As two people who didn’t know much about T’Challa from the Marvel comics, we found ourselves invested in the character’s journey because of Chadwick and his iconic portrayal.
Wakanda Forever also gave us a new character to appreciate: Namor, the antagonist of the film portrayed by Tenoch Huerta also known as Sub-Mariner in the comics. Namor is a mutant with winged feet who rules the hidden underwater kingdom of Talokan, which, like Wakanda, is advanced by the power of vibranium. The MCU took some liberties with Namor’s character, who was originally the son of both an Atlantean princess and a sea captain, but in Wakanda Forever he’s of Mayan descent.
Taking some more liberties with characters, they surprised us with the direction of Shuri’s (Letitia Wright) character development. In the first Black Panther movie, Shuri was known for her intelligence and lighthearted sarcasm. While she did not lose those parts of her personality, the death of her brother inevitably changed her, forcing her to mature rapidly and discover what she’s made of.
Letitia Wright’s ability to take Shuri’s loss and turn it into strength was heartfelt and genuine. We felt she was grieving Chadwick Boseman on screen with us. We believed many of the tears she shed in the film were in fact real. We cried some of our own tears with Letitia while watching.
The only critique we have of Letitia’s Shuri is her physique and how the fight sequences portrayed her strength. Letitia is naturally petite and while her anger was believable, her strength compared to Namor’s didn’t seem to add up. Perhaps the film should have given her more stealth and agility than combat sequences. After seeing Thor: Love & Thunder and how buff Natalie Portman looked as Jane Foster’s Mighty Thor, it makes us wonder why Letitia’s appearance wasn’t muscled up as well. In today’s body-positive climate, maybe it was to portray a “small but mighty” mindset, but we digress. This observation didn’t take away from the movie or how we felt about Letitia in the role.
Apart from Namor, Wakanda Forever also introduced Riri Williams AKA Iron Heart to the MCU. Iron Heart is set to take over for Iron Man and even though we’re not mourning Robert Downey Jr. in real life, we are mourning Tony Stark, so we were surprised there weren’t more easter eggs having to do with him. Maybe they’ll save all of that for the upcoming Iron Heart series coming to Disney+ in 2023.
Riri, played by Dominique Thorne, along with good ole M’Baku (Winston Duke) served as comic relief for the, at times, heavy and emotional film. As always, it was fun to watch Danai Gurira as Okoye, general of the Wakanda special forces, Dora Milaje.
Musically, the soundtrack is amazing and highlighted the culture and brought the emotion in the film to life. Visually, Wakanda is as glorious as we’ve seen in past films, however, we were disappointed in how Talokan appeared on the screen. The colors and the city appeared dull and we were not taken on enough of a journey through the kingdom and its people. Perhaps this was intentional and will be explored in future films.
Any of our critical comments are minuscule compared to how much we love this film. If you haven’t seen it yet because you’re worried it will ruin Chadwick’s legacy or the power of the Black Panther, you have nothing to fear. Trust us, go see Wakanda Forever… now.