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AV Brew: Black Panther|Wakanda Forever – Spoiler Review

Wakanda. Forever.


I walked into Black Panther: Wakanda Forever with trepidation. I didn’t agree with the decision to not recast T’Challa after the tragic death of Chadwick Boseman. Further the original Black Panther was a rare cultural moment that went well and beyond just the Black audiences who loved the characters and the idea of Wakanda itself. My grandfather used to tell me that sometimes being wrong is a good thing. In this case I was wrong on all points.


The collective team behind Black Panther: Wakanda Forever should be applauded for creating possibly the best sequel since Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. I know that sounds hyperbolic but let me assure you it isn’t. This film was asked to do the impossible: honor the passing of a star in Mr. Boseman, who was clearly one of the best actors in his generation; serve as a follow up to one of the first truly iconic films of the 21st century; oh, and be really, really good. In my opinion this film achieves all of the above.

One of the things that elevates Wakanda Forever over its other MCU brethren is the emotional depth of the film. The need to explore grief and loss and how that changes us is seen in every character, starting with Namor, in the form of the death of his mother, and of course all of our returning characters. You can feel the linkage to Ryan Coogler’s early work in Fruitvale Station and Creed as he leverages those experiences to give this film an emotional resonance rarely seen in film generally but is unique for a big budget action movie.

More than any other MCU film I felt for the characters and their struggle to deal with their unimaginable loss. It is a testimony to the greatness of the cast that they were able to utilize their own genuine sense of loss at the passing of Mr. Boseman in exploring the loss of T’Challa. I was especially moved by Letitia Wright’s performance as Shuri, who over the course of the film leads the audience through the stages of grief and has to come to terms with her loss of faith in the ancestors and her subsequent need for vengeance even at the cost of Wakanda itself.

One of the largest criticisms prior to the release of the film was that Shuri hadn’t done anything to earn the mantle of Black Panther, which is why recasting T’Challa was preferred. Let me assure you, she earns it in every way imaginable. Shuri suffers with the death of those she loves repeatedly, briefly loses her way for the sake of vengeance, but finds a way back to the heroine’s path. And so far as she handles Namor….it’s a wonderful call back to how her brother fought his own battle against his need for vengeance and chose to be something noble. We watched T’Challa earn the right to be Wakanda’s protector, Shuri proves herself to be just as worthy.

As great as the film was, like all things in life, it’s not perfect. The fight scenes could have been better. Riri Williams (whose appearance on screen caused my 8 year old to shout her name with joy) could have been used better and for the most part serves as a plot device. However, in its entirety this a moving film, that’s not always easy to watch, but was what both the cast and the audience that loved both Chadwick Boseman and T’Challa needed.

4.5 Heart Shaped Herbs out of 5

Super Spoilers!!!!!

The reveal of T’Challa’s son by Nakia who is being raised in Haiti moved me to tears. Loss and death is universal to the human condition but for the African Diaspora it has been painfully true. Yet our hope has always been on those who are yet to come. The peace and love on Shuri’s face gazing at her nephew reminds us we endure our grief based on nothing but hope that the future can still be bright. The mantle of the Panther is safe and honored by Shuri’s assumption of the role, but we can also look forward to sometime in the distant future when another T’Challa will show himself the equal of the greatness of his family.

About Armand (1271 Articles)
Armand is a husband, father, and life long comics fan. A devoted fan of Batman and the Valiant Universe he loves writing for PCU, when he's not running his mouth on the PCU podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @armandmhill

1 Comment on AV Brew: Black Panther|Wakanda Forever – Spoiler Review

  1. Reblogged this on The Adventures of Fort Gaskin-Burr and commented:

    #WakandaForever is everything it should be, and more.

    Like

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