In Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), Shuri (Letitia Wright), M’Baku (Winston Duke), Okoye (Danai Gurira) and the Dora Milaje (including Florence Kasumba) fight to protect their nation from intervening world powers in the wake of King T’Challa’s death. As the Wakandans strive to embrace their next chapter, the heroes must band together with the help of War Dog Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) and Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) and forge a new path for the kingdom of Wakanda. Introducing Tenoch Huerta as Namor, king of a hidden undersea nation, the film also stars Dominique Thorne, Michaela Coel, Mabel Cadena and Alex Livinalli.
What We Thought:
Let’s cut right to the chase, is Black Panther: Wakanda Forever as good as Black Panther? No. Does that make it a bad movie? Also no. It has its flaws, but it 100% continues the Marvel Cinematic Universe and will make a ton of money. A TON OF MONEY.
I’m going to discuss the film’s issues and it might seem like I’m shredding it, but I’m not. It is these flaws that hurt the movie and keep it from being a top 10 MCU flick. First and foremost is its runtime. It’s 2 hours and 40+ minutes long and shouldn’t be. I don’t mind long movies if they don’t feel long, but this does feel long. If it came in around 2 hours 10 minutes, it’s a lot better and there’s a whole character/substory you could get rid of to get that runtime down. It drags in spots and loses steam along the way.
That character/substory I mentioned is the introduction of someone into the MCU. I’m not sure if mentioning them is a spoiler so I won’t say who it is. No it’s not Namor, he’s in the trailers and is known to be the antagonist in the movie. It’s a more recent comic book character that just isn’t necessary to the film especially because you brought in Namor. This character ultimately ends up as a plot device and could have been replaced with any generic scientist or character. Or cut that story completely because Namor vs. Shuri/Wakanda is what the film should be about. You have Wakanda dealing with the death of King T’Challa now facing Namor and his people. That’s all you needed here. This new character feels tacked on simply to get them into the MCU.
I thought the film looked dark as well. Maybe it was my theater, but it seemed to lack the vibrancy of Black Panther. Costuming is fine, but the movie had a dark tone to it. Yes a lot of it is underwater with Namor, but even the Wakandan scenes and parts in the US and elsewhere lacked brightness. The score and soundtrack is great and it was shot well in terms of cinematography, but Black Panther was such a dynamic film introducing this new culture that its sequel looked lackluster to me.
With the death of Chadwick Boseman in real life it was going to be really difficult to follow up Black Panther. Wakanda Forever does a great job bringing in the emotion, but it’s just too long and unfocused at times. There are scenes though that are, to steal a term from a friend, gut punching. Especially that mid credits scene, get the tissues. The first Black Panther film felt like something different in the MCU. It was connected to other MCU movies, but it felt different and unique. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever doesn’t quite have that uniqueness. Namor is nowhere near as riveting as Killmonger and the CGI and action sequences look like everything else you see in Marvel movies. Black Panther stood out and got a Best Picture nomination because of it. Wakanda Forever is good and is very watchable, but ultimately feels like just the next movie in the MCU. I like the MCU so it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but Wakanda Forever is not the game changer the first film was. That being said, it’s still very much…