“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is a follow-up to “Black Panther” (released in 2018). The main cast and crew are the same, but for one tragic difference. The prior movie’s main star, Chadwick Boseman, had sadly passed away. How would the new edition of the Marvel adventure to the mythical African country of Wakanda handle this situation? With surprising grace and with much respect to the fallen superhero.
Wakanda was a mystery to the outside world. That was, until T’Challa, the Black Panther, opened open the doors. The small African nation was ignored for the most part. But since it possessed a secret cache of valuable Vibranium ore, the country became an advanced superpower. It was hidden, on purpose, to cover the fact that this little place had the cornered the market. With great Vibranium powers, come great Superhero responsibilities.
But the new King has passed away, and the country is hurting and confounded. The Queen Mother (played by Angela Bassett) has control of the nation, but struggles with control over her emotions. Princess Shuri (played by Letitia Wright) is heart-broken in her grief.
She worked hard to make a synthetic herb that could grant healing powers to her brother before he died. Now her focus on technology and invention has become an obsession. The leader of the all-female guardian group called ‘Dora Milaje’ is Okoye (played by Danai Gurira). Even a fierce warrior can be beaten by strong emotions.
Another tribal leader is M’Baku (played by Winston Duke), who is ready to do anything to assist the people of his tribe, and the fellow countrymen. There is a special relationship between the deceased King and his smart girlfriend named Nakia (played by Lupita Nyong’o). She knew that her skills in undercover work were needed outside of the nation. Her sorrow is greater than most, but for an unspoken reason. The nation of Wakanda is a low point, but now there are unseen forces getting even more troublesome.
A young MIT student named Riri Williams (played by Dominique Thorne) has developed a Vibranium detection device. The military is using it in the deep Atlantic Ocean. The Wakanda people are not willing to share all the riches of Vibranium, so the military and contractors will go out and find their own. But this rouses the anger of a new people of underwater dwelling people, never before seen. This is the people of Talokan. It is a secretive undersea civilization that derived from the ancient Mayans.
The Talokan people are led by a powerful ruler named Namor (played by Tenoch Huerta). He is super powerful; since he was born after his mother took a potion that contained a Vibranium enhanced herb. He is a brave and protective figure for his people. He will not let any other nation come down to his ocean home to steal Vibrainium. The Talokan people attack and kill the military intruders. They see that Riri Williams is behind the detection machine, so they will find a way to deal with her.
But first Namor goes to Wakanda and speaks to Queen Ramonda and Princess Shuri. They are shocked that he is able to get past all the defenses. But his plea is simple. Both civilizations have stores of Vibrainium. They don’t want other countries seizing that material to make weapons that could be used against the world. Then they can work together, right? You guys go off and get the Williams girl, and bring her back to me. I will ‘take care’ of the threat.
The Queen is rightly upset that this intruder has come in to make these types of demands. But his people are great in number, and any attack against the nation of Wakanda would not be easy to fend off. Okoye, the talented warrior, decides to go to Boston. But Shuri puts herself into the action also. They could use some help, so they call upon a friend they have in the CIA. It is Agent Ross (played by Martin Freeman), who was helpful to King T’Challa in the past.
But the Talokan warriors are also there to find Riri Williams, and they tangle with Okoye and Shuri too. There are prisoners taken. But Namor is a well-mannered host. He gives Shuri a tour of the underwater city and of the domain he has created. He must protect his people by protecting his stash of Vibranium ore. Any one who tries to take what is his will find nothing but death. But thanks to Nakia, Shuri and Riri are able to escape and get back to Wakanda. But now they know that there is an enemy that can attack at any moment.
Queen Ramonda is worried that Namor and his people will come to fight them in Wakanda. Nakia and Okoye have ideas about how to protect the people. They enlist the aid of M’Baku, who is willing to take any of city dwellers into his mountains. The team of Shuri and Riri work at ways to duplicate the synthetic herb that could grant healing powers. They also wonder if this fake version would also give the person the same super-powers of the ‘Black Panther’…
But in the end, the capable crew of Wakanda citizens, royalty and warriors go on to take the fight to Namor. His ideals might be noble. But his methods of death and destruction cannot be tolerated. They must find a way to come to a peaceful settlement. But if not, Wakanda is ready to take on the Talokan fighters in a battle royale at sea.
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is movie that takes on the tragic events of real life. It then weaves them into a touching memorial to carry forth the powerful message of the first movie. With Chadwick Boseman gone, the question remained about how the second movie would handle his unexpected death. But the actors who remain give heartfelt performances that delve into the pain of grief and sorrow of sudden loss.
Angela Bassett plays Romonda as a powerful and commanding leader, with an aching and longing for the recent past. The work of Letitia Wright as Shuri is emotionally stirring. Danai Gurira (Okoye) and Lupita Nyong’o (Nakia) have quiet moments of inner sorrow, but try to remain strong. Winston Duke (M’Baku) is good with some humorous moments. Dominique Thorne (Riri) delivers a strong performace of brainy kid who wants to do the right thing. Tenoch Huerta (Namor) is also a presence on the screen as a leader who is tough and stubborn with his flawed logic.
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” – Wanda Maximoff brought us her ideal world in “Wanda Vision”. Perhaps this is the Afro-centric version with “Wakanda Vision”…
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Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Directed by: Ryan Coogler
Screenplay by: Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole
Story by: Ryan Coogler
Based on: “Black Panther” (by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby)
Starring: Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Winston Duke, Dominique Thorne, Tenoch Huerta, Martin Freeman, Angela Bassett
Cinematography: Autumn Durald Arkapaw
Music by: Ludwig Göransson
Production company: Marvel Studios
Distributed by: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Release date: November 11, 2022
Length: 161 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13 for sequences of strong violence, action and some language
Genre: Superhero Action