The movie titled ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’, which was released on November 11, is a sequel to the 2018 blockbuster film, an American action superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character.
The loud absence of Chadwick Boseman, who played King T’Challa in the first Black Panther film, is not something that can be filled in a sequel. Boseman died at 43 in 2020.
Director of the film, Ryan Coogler, doesn’t try to do so. While other Marvel pictures can set for multiverse out of questions of mortality should they so wish, Coogler leans on the pain shared by Boseman’s colleagues and fans alike and crafts an unexpectedly sober picture that explores the grieving process.
The film begins with a funeral for the deceased King T’Challa. Shuri (Letitia Wright) and Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) are dressed in white, following the black coffin, whose top features the Black Panther mask and the crossed arms of the Wakanda salute.
Their mournful procession, winding through the kingdom, is contrasted with slow-motion tracking shots of dancers jubilantly dancing in memory of their fallen king. After the coffin arrives at a clearing, where it ceremoniously rises to the sky, then appeared an earnest emotional montage of Boseman as T’Challa.
The attention to details surrounding the tragic passing of Chadwick, being so meticulously fitted into the story, in how Wakanda also lost King T’Challa to illness, is something that gets a big thumbs up.
The subtle hints of emotions, particularly a throwaway line from Shuri (Letitia Wright) on how her brother suffered in silence, is a very vivid re-balance to how Chadwick Boseman, held for so long, a strong facade.
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Then, the ‘Black Panther: Wakana Forever’ builds from there, showing how the tiny African nation is led by Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) in a period of rebuilding. But as the global superpowers encroach upon their territory and resources, a new player enters the game as we see in the underwater empire of Talocan led by their God–king, Namor, who wages war against the surface world. And sadly, Wakanda (the fictional African nation) finds itself in the middle of its path of destruction.
Some of weaknesses were the overly stretched out plot, amongst other things. There are so many stretches of the film where the pace slows down too much. The exposition is cleverly written and the film does get out of Chadwick Boseman’s shadow, which was something I was worried about.
Just like the popular saying, “Jack of all trade master of none” I feel that in a bid to come of Chadwick’s shadows, the director tried to do so many things with too many characters.
This choice to focus on multiple acts in the ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ softens the emotional blows somewhat. Instead of it ending up being a story of redemption and overcoming grief, it is reduced to the standard tropes