Black Panther: Wakanda Forever review
Following the success of the groundbreaking Black Panther (2018), a sequel was going to be inevitable. Even with the sad passing of lead Chadwick Boseman, the powers that be ploughed on to create something that would acknowledge real-life events and celebrate the culture of Wakanda, and stay true to what came before. Despite the fact that most of the cast (save for Daniel Kaluuya) has come back for a second run in Wakanda, when one first sees the marketing materials, one can’t help but feel that the original Black Panther’s absence leaves a hole, like how Chadwick’s death left a hole in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that the people in charge decided not to fill, opting to kill him off for real. This meant rewriting the script from top to bottom.
We start with Letitia Wright’s tech genius Shuri, her mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett) and the rest of Wakanda as they mourn the passing of T’Challa, and with it, the Black Panther mantle that has ensured peace in their nation for generations. Now Ramonda takes a seat at the world table, asserting her power as she defends her nation from the world community who questions their policies on resource distribution and vibranium. However, what really rocks the Wakandans’ world is the emergence of the Talokans – they’re a nation of sea-dwellers, lead by the half-human mutant K'uk'ulkan, otherwise known as Namor (Tenoch Huerta). Initially presented as hostile towards the surface world, they are later revealed to also hold their own supply of vibranium, which they want to protect from outside sources. With the help of Shuri’s ‘favourite coloniser’, Everett K. Ross (Martin Freeman), she and the Dora Milaje general Okoye find university student and young inventor in Dominique Thorne’s Riri Williams. Like Amon from Black Adam (2022), Kamala Khan in Ms Marvel (2022) and Ned in Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), she serves as the teenage superhero fangirl, referencing typical tropes and ‘supervillain s***’ as Okoye hilariously struggles to understand where she is coming from culturally, and questions her boss’s approach to evading the CIA agents out to retrieve Riri (whose vibranium-detecting machine has made her the target of the USA and the Talokans).
What this film does really well is the balancing of the difficult subject of T’Challa’s death with the wider issue of the Talokans vs. the Wakandans, exploring the five stages of grief through Shuri and her interactions with the other characters in depth without allowing it to take over the film. Additionally, her and Namor’s people provide excellent foils to one another, from their civilisations and their issues with colonialism, to their interactions with the wider world. And they still find time to have a bit of fun in spite of the serious backdrop, providing a deep, though entertaining watch.
Now, where can I find the first draft of the movie’s script?