Wakanda Forever: Worth a Watch?

Beth S (Year 12), Chief Contributor

(Please be advised this article may contain spoilers) 

Black Panther 2: Wakanda Forever was released on the 10th of November 2022 and has since received significant global attention. Audience reviews were high, though perhaps not as positive as other Marvel movies. 

As someone who has grown up with Marvel movies and absolutely adored the 1st Black Panther, I had high expectations for Black Panther 2: Wakanda Forever.  

Were they met? Kind of. 

What I appreciated most about the movie was the abundance of respect shown towards Chadwick Boseman. Marvel sought to honour his passing by recognising his contributions both to the franchise and the character he played, T’Challa, as well as honouring him as an individual. Coogler, the returning director, leans into the pain shared by Boseman’s colleagues and fans, exploring the grieving process through the characters, as well as through what could be described as a sombre storyline. The movie tactfully honours Boseman in this way, as well as clearly dedicating the film to him. 

The rest of the movie was good, but not great. It’s what I would describe as a ‘watch once, but not again’ movie; that is, interesting enough to hook you the first time, but not to an extent of a desire to rewatch. In many ways, the story mirrored an origin one. Though it built upon existing characters, relationships and societies, the introduction of new threats and experiences were more for a sense of future development rather than an intriguing story in themselves. 

The expectations of this movie were high, and to say Coogler may have been ‘overtaxed’ I feel is appropriate. Not only did Coogler have the expectation of respectfully encompassing the death of Chadwick Boseman (and therefore the character of T’Challa), but was also tasked with maintaining the energy and appreciation of the first movie. Coogler had the challenge of incorporating respectful representation of Black power and the Wakanda Afro-futurism and was challenged to successfully introduce a new Black Panther to fulfill the mantle left behind, with new characters and cultures included through the introduction of Namor to the MCU. 

This resulted in what I previously mentioned. The origin feel: leaving the film feeling perhaps less than was expected, specifically in response to a sequel. 

In this way, many people have hastened to dub the film unlike your typical Marvel movie. It’s unclear whether this is a good thing. What made this film more unique was the cultivation of an intricate underwater society, inspired by the Indigenous Mayan people. The costuming and production pulls from Mayan folklore: speech, dresses, architecture etc., all weaved with Indigenous details, corroborating the origins of the Talokan peoples.  

Contrastingly, the feminist in me loved Shuri’s characterisation. When coupled with the other strong female characters of Okoye, Nakia, Queen Ramonda and Riri, the film became a strong symbol for women, establishing ideal role models. Shuri battles with herself throughout, but ultimately makes her decisions to best reflect who she truly is. Nakia’s return adds layers of brightness and happiness; her character, a positive addition to the group of strong females. The new character of Riri was particularly exciting to me, as a character newly added to Marvel’s Comics (2016, Ironheart). 

What’s interesting to me, is the different audience reactions to this movie. I’ve heard striking reviews, on completely opposite ends of the spectrum. Some claim the movie is “a return with a raw emotional core” (The Guardian, 13/11/22). For others, the movie “Doesn’t have all the answers,” and “carries a series of burdens no one film could ever bear” (Vulture, 9/11/22). 

So, what do you think? 

Go see Black Panther 2: Wakanda Forever and let me know! 

9/10 bin chickens