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‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ floods theaters with emotional performances

‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ floods theaters with emotional performances

‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ floods theaters with emotional performances
November 18
13:00 2022

Ending Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” launches a new level of expectations as to what a superhero film can be.

The film delivers a gut-wrenching and raw experience for new and returning audiences after the sudden death of King T’Challa, the Black Panther. The people of Wakanda must now defend themselves from other nations as well as Talokan, a hidden underwater society rich with vibranium.

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is the second-longest MCU film and uses its extended runtime expertly. The movie doesn’t rush itself into action or weighty scenes, but rather gives itself room to build into more meaningful moments patiently. Early scenes in the film utilize techniques and themes previously unseen in Marvel projects, like the introduction of the Talokan, which evokes elements usually found in horror films.

The movie wastes no time addressing Chadwick Boseman’s absence from his role as Black Panther after his death. The opening scenes explain T’Challa’s absence while also paying tribute to the actor and the character he portrayed.

Unlike prior Disney-owned projects like “Stars Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” the movie chooses not to recreate Boseman digitally or utilize any unseen footage beyond short clips from other Marvel projects. Respect for Boseman emanates from every part of the production.

The cast of the film give performances that put any other Marvel movie to shame and provide texture to the characters they portray. Angela Bassett’s Queen Ramonda takes an early lead in the movie as a figure of strength and resilience. Her dialogue guides the audience through the grief of the Queen, as well as the pain felt by all the characters.

By the end of the film, it is Letitia Wright and Tenoch Huerta’s portrayals of Shuri and Namor that steal the show as their ideological dichotomy swell into conflict.

There is no doubt the creative direction of Namor and the changing of Atlantis to Talokan will go down as one of the most creative reimaginings of a comic book character’s origin. Not only does the new origin story of Marvel’s first mutant provide a more engaging environment for characters to interact with, but it gives so much more conviction and righteousness to Huerta’s performance.

Namor is considered to be the first comic book antihero. This iteration provides much more sympathetic reasoning to the Sub-Mariner’s cold demeanor beyond just a bad attitude.

Namor and the Talokan’s inclusion in the film allows “Wakanda Forever” to engage in a much more nuanced social commentary by tackling colonialism and neocolonialism in a way the original “Black Panther” did not.

Talokan’s origins are directly tied to the violent colonization of the Mayan empire, which influences Namor’s hatred for the surface world. Meanwhile, T’Challa’s death triggers world governments like the United States Central Intelligence Agency and French military to make concealed attacks against Wakanda, as they perceive the country as weak despite their obvious technological advantage.

By showing the effects of historical colonialism and modern Western foreign policy affect both sides of the conflict, the movie provides more complex tension. “Wakanda Forever” doesn’t leave these nuanced relationships just between the Talokan and the Wakandans, either. Many parts of the film — including one very noteworthy scene between Queen Ramonda and General Okoye — put the characters at odds with how they react to the trauma of T’Challa’s death.

In a first for the MCU, “Wakanda Forever” makes no effort to build up to any overarching story or hint at another project. The film is entirely self-contained, and beyond obvious references to the original “Black Panther” and minor nods to “Avengers: Endgame,” audiences could watch this movie without any prior knowledge other than its preceding film.

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is a must-see not just for those who enjoy a good superhero film, but for audiences who enjoy emotionally-charged movies with star-studded casts. Leaving the theater may not have you impatient for the next MCU project, but will leave you satisfied with a story that does right by its cast and tells a powerful story.

Ayden’s rating: 5/5

Featured Illustration by Erika Sevilla

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Ayden Runnels

Ayden Runnels

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