Full Review: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Cassidy Lovell, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Warning: This review contains spoilers.

First, I feel it’s necessary to address the passing of Chadwick Boseman, as it plays a significant role in the film’s plot. Boseman played King T’Challa, the Black Panther, in four MCU films: Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame. Sadly, Boseman died of colon cancer in 2020, leaving fans with questions about the proposed sequel film.

While the Black Panther sequel was initially meant to star Boseman, Marvel decided against recasting T’Challa, and the sequel’s plot changed. I felt that Marvel handled this tragic passing as respectfully as they could— the film is dedicated to him, and the opening Marvel comic sequence only features Boseman, with no accompanying music. A moment of silence.

The film begins with T’Challa’s death, which is relatively unexplained. An unnamed illness is killing him, and Shuri (Letitia Wright) desperately tries to save him by genetically replicating the “heart-shaped herb” which granted him his powers. It’s no use— he dies before she can create a functioning copy. A year passes.

The CIA, alongside the U.S. Navy Seals, come across a vibranium deposit in the ocean using a vibranium-detecting machine. Before they can obtain any vibranium, they’re attacked by a race of blue-skinned, ocean-dwelling humanoids– the Talokanil. The king of Talokan, Namor (Tenoch Huerta), effortlessly infiltrates Wakanda, revealing himself to Shuri and Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) with an ultimatum: bring the scientist who invented the vibranium-detecting device to him, or else.

Shuri travels with Okoye (Danai Gurira) to MIT to find Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne). They plan to take her to Wakanda, but they are stopped by the FBI and the Talokanil, who abduct Riri and Shuri. Shuri is quite interested in Talokan— a beautiful underwater kingdom, a civilization hidden away from the surface world. Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) shows up to save Williams and Shuri, but in doing so, angers Namor, who launches an attack on Wakanda. The Queen dies saving Williams, and Namor threatens to return with a full-blown invasion.

Angered and mourning, Shuri is finally able to replicate the heart-shaped herb, consuming it to become the new Black Panther. But who she sees in her dream-like state is not who she expected— Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan). Like Killmonger, Shuri is consumed by her rage.Her mother is dead, and Shuri will have her revenge on Namor.

Battle ensues! Wakandans fight the Talokanil on a ship while Shuri takes Namor to a desert in an attempt to weaken him. Shuri bests him (after being quite brutally impaled) but decides not to succumb to her vengeful urges and spares his life. Namor later reveals to his cousin that his surrender and Wakandan alliance will help them one day take over the surface world— more to see of the Talokan?

Shuri meets Nakia in Haiti, where Nakia reveals that she and T’Challa had a secret son:Toussaint (Divine Love Konadu-Sun) who introduces himself as Prince T’Challa, son of KingT’Challa.

Overall, I enjoyed Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. It was nearly three hours long (intermission, please?), and two of those hours felt like set-up for a cool twenty-minute fight. The visuals were aesthetically pleasing, although there were some noticeable CGI and shot consistency slip-ups. The actors were phenomenal at conveying raw emotion— mourning, especially from Letitia Wright. If you’re a fan of Black Panther, I would definitely recommend seeing this movie… but bring plenty of snacks, cause it’s a long one.