Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is the long-awaited sequel to the 2018 film starring Chadwick Boseman as King T’Challa (the Black Panther) and Letitia Wright as Princess Shuri. This film unfortunately had to be stalled after the death of Chadwick Boseman. A lot of people wondered what they would do now that the titular character of Black Panther was dead but I think the film handled it pretty well. In a lot of ways, the film mirrors the actors’ struggles when filming this film.

Namor

Namor is a perfect antagonist for this film because he’s a hero to his people he’s a god to his people. Namor is a perfect antagonist for this sequel because in a lot of ways Talokan is Wakanda only their leader never died he’s been the leader for as long as Talokan has existed. This makes things complicated for the Wakandans because the Wakandans have had to evolve as they’ve gone from leader to leader and that’s what happens you know you get different leaders you get different perspectives and you move in different directions. So when Namor and Shuri are speaking and he makes it clear that he has no problem killing, he has no problem doing whatever he has to do to protect his people you can tell that Shuri is a little bit on edge about that.

What makes me very interested in Namor is that he realizes that there’s no way for them to continue to be in secret if Wakanda is going to be in public because they both have Vibranium and people are gonna be seeking them out. Namor then asks Shuri AKA the Wakandans to join Talokan in a fight to take over the surface world. Shuri is not interested in that at all. Wakanda has been dealing with a lot and it’s almost as if it’s been attacked from all sides. Wakanda has no Black Panther no heart-shaped herb and it’s not even like Shuri is even trying to recreate it.

A part of me was confused about Namor being angry at Wakanda for coming out to the public but at the same time once you saw it you actually understood that maybe Wakanda should leave Namor and his people to live in secret. What I was curious about is why all of a sudden Namor wanted to invade the surface world but then when you think about it people are going to want Vibranium no matter what and the Wakandans will have to turn to the Talokans and that will allow the Talokans equal measure and an increase in power and leverage over Wakanda and the surface world. I guess my question from now onwards is gonna be: 

  • Does this mean that the Talokans are gonna exist in the background of everything in the MCU?
  • Can the Talokans get a film or show? Will we see the Talokans ever again?
  • Is the story of the Talokans now tied to Black Panther and the Wakandans’ story?

Namor and Shuri

When Shuri goes down to Talokan and she meets Namor there’s a sense of curiosity I can see but at the same time, you could tell that she’s trying to at least step up to at least extend the hand to the Talokans and help keep Riri alive in the process. I hope I’m not alone in this but the scenes between Namor and Shuri for me were throwing me all the way off there was a lot of tension there, there was a lot of curiosity and excitement and I kept wondering to myself ‘Are they gonna kiss or are they gonna start fighting?’ because it seemed like an energy that could go either way to me. So when Shuri finally gets rescued you can tell that there is a part of her who did not want to leave and that could either be partly because she likes Namor’s world or she’s just straight-up curious you know she’s an intelligent girl and with intelligence comes curiosity.

That didn’t help my thought process about what was going on with the energy there between them but Shuri is very young in the MCU timeline so if they did go down that road it would be interesting.

Stand-out scene: After Namor’s flooded the throne/counsel room, a lot of people have been hurt and injured and Queen Romandas is dead. Namor says ‘Bury your dead mourn your losses’ and he points to Shuri and says to her ‘You’re the Queen now’. I know now that he has killed Shuri’s mother so there is no way for them to be together but that scene hit a mark for me.

Riri Williams & M’Baku

I have to give it to Dominique Thorne she did a wonderful job as Riri Williams and obviously, it’s very difficult coming into a position where everybody in the cast already either knows each other or at least has a good rapport but she did such a good job. She was funny and charasmatic she was the POV of this film as she struggles with understanding why she is wanted by the Talokans. I like the banter that she has with Shuri. I like that they never hid how smart she is but what I found to be even more interesting is that she was not even aware that her invention was being used to help the US. Where’s her cheque America?

In this film, I felt bad for Winston Duke as M’Baku because I am sure he wanted to be able to mourn on screen like a lot of the other actors but because his character is known to bring a comedic energy he didn’t let the audience down in that sense and I have to give him credit. I like that the Jabari were brought onto the counsel after all they did to help T’Challa and his family in the first film. What I did not like was him only challenging for the throne after it became clear that Shuri could finally recreate the heart-shaped herb, very cowardly M’Baku. That being said it might also be because he does not trust Shuri with the mantle.

Queen Ramonda and General Okoye

When the trailers for this film came out I kept wondering why Ramonda took over as Queen, Shuri is technically next in line. Then I thought about how young Shuri is and also it seemed the Queen was trying to engage with Shuri, help her grieve, help her move on. In a lot of ways, I think Ramonda was trying to prepare Shuri for the mantle but Shuri was too caught up in grief to even think about her taking over as a possibility.

A part of me thought Ramonda was handling it a little too well that is until Okoye loses a battle with the Talokans and Shuri (& Riri) are taken. This leads me to one of the more heartbreaking scenes of this film.

Queen Romanda reprimands General Okoye and then strips her of her rank. Okoye tries to change the Queen’s mind by saying she has given her whole life to the throne she is so distraught it is so heartbreaking to watch. The sadness in her eyes, shoutout to Danai Gurira, I felt that. Okoye talks about giving up her husband to protect the throne I was like yeah that’s a good argument. But then when Queen Ramonda reminds her that she only did that in the end and when Killmonger, the outsider, took over the Black Panther and the throne everybody in the room including Okoye and the Dora Milaje, stood by him for a while at least. Queen Ramonda reminds them all that she’s lost her husband her son and now her daughter is missing, she has lost her entire family, she has lost everything she’s put everything on the line for the crown. The Queen even said at least you can still go visit your husband in jail whereas her family is in the ancestral plane for me that was the nail in the coffin for Okoye. Okoye, in the scene, is destroyed and she has to give up her spear and her rank. It is such a significant scene because Okoye is great in her loyalty but blind loyalty can be your end thankfully Shuri wanted her back but it was a difficult lesson to learn at that moment.

Best scene

Despite my not being interested in seeing Killmonger alive as the Black Panther I was very curious to see if they would use him in this film and they did it most elegantly. When Shuri first went to the ancestral plane I wondered who she was going to see, was it going to be her mother? her brother (using CGI)? her father? I think that this scene stood out to me because it was a surprise but in the context of the film made perfect sense. Shuri at that point was angry in her grief and there is no other Black Panther (that we have seen) that epitomised not moving on from anger in grief more than Killmonger. When he talks about all the Black Panthers in her lifetime, her father and her brother and himself, he asks who she thinks would be able to take care of this situation.

There is a saying about how modern problems require modern solutions and it made me wonder how if T’Challa was still alive would he have been able to handle Namor like Shuri had to? Cause at the end of the day Killmonger wasn’t wrong when he talked about T’Challa being too noble and when he looks at Shuri he says to her ‘So are you gonna be noble like your brother or are you gonna take care of business [like me]?’. Shout out to Michael B Jordan. I think a lot about that because at the end of the day Shuri’s anger is justified the position she has is justified and when you think about Namor and all that he’s done and all that he represents and all that he wants to do you understand that a guy like him is not gonna stop. Namor is on par with them because he also has Vibranium and he has Vibranium almost at its purest level unlike the Wakandans who’ve lived in a sort of sanctuary Namor has trained all of his people to fight whereas more than half of the Wakandans are civilians. Namor was looking more and more like an immovable object to me. The scene was shot so spectacularly because the throne room is flooded and on fire, it perfectly encapsulates how Shuri is feeling like she is drowning/being flooded with grief and anger. Ryan Coogler did a great job with symbolism here.

Questions

  • Is the Thunderbolts film going to be about getting Everett Ross back from the Wakandans?
  • Is the Thunderbolts film going to be about the Talokans?
  • Does this mean Shuri is going to train her nephew to take over the mantle of Black Panther?
  • Will Shuri have to fight M’Baku for the throne?
  • Why couldn’t Nakia just have been in the last credits scene? No offence but anybody on the Dora could have done what she did, then again I guess it helps to flex Lupita’s Mexican roots.

Conclusion

There is a very easy way to make a film about grief and keep it gloomy but it takes intelligence to remember that grief isn’t like that all the time. Sometimes you are sad, sometimes you are happy and sometimes you are angry. It is important to not live with bad emotions all the time because you would not want that to become who you are. Killmonger being who Shuri saw in the ancestral plane was significant not just for what I mentioned above but also because he was a perfect example of who Shuri should not become. I also have to give this film props for not just tackling some of the issues people had with the first film and keeping all of the things people loved about the first one.

Huge acting cheers to Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett and Tenoch Huerta. Chadwick would have been proud in my opinion.

Rating: 8.6/10

Note: If someone wants to start making Namor/Shuri fanfics I would read that *insert eyes emoji*

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