When Chadwick Boseman passed away two years ago, it was more than the loss of an actor whose gifts were once in a generation. His portrayal of T’Challa/Black Panther in the original Black Panther film was groundbreaking and universally applauded.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was released in theaters this past weekend. It takes place a half dozen years after the first movie ended. It starts with T’Challa’s off-screen death from an unknown illness. The loss of both the King and protector leaves Wakanda in a state of mourning. While his mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett) steps up to lead the nation and deal with pressure from the outside, her daughter Shuri (Letitia Wright) tries to pretend that everything is fine.
Then a new threat emerges. Namor (Tenoch Huerta) is the king of an underwater Indigenous people. His ancestors were nearly exterminated by Spanish colonizers. Like the Wakandans, vibranium is part and parcel of their culture. Namor is threatening to wage war against the surface world. The only way to appease him is to bring him a young wunderkind scientist, Riri Williams/Ironheart (Dominique Thorne).
Wow. Like its predecessor, the film balances action, emotion, and timely social issues. This is Wright’s film. She carries it with everything she has. I was floored by her abilities as a performer. In addition to dealing with the grief (and the connected mental health issues) that come with losing a loved one, Shuri must protect her country.
As in Black Panther, it is the women who are in leadership roles. Each is human and powerful in her own right. She is also an important part of the narrative and is dealing with the loss of T’Challa in her own way.
My only issue is that it was a little long.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely. It is one of my favorite movies of the year.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is presently in theaters.
P.S. As usual, stay for the mid-scene credits. It will make you cry.