“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” review: Marvel’s emotional homage to the Black Panther legacy


Courtesy of IMDb

Dajah Saul, Social Media Coordinator

Editor’s note: This review contains spoilers for Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”

Marvel Studios once again delivers with the highly anticipated sequel to 2018’s Black Panther, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Originally announced as simply Black Panther Two, the sequel was solemnly put on hold with the unexpected passing of its title actor, Chadwick Boseman, in 2020.

Taking time to mourn and respectfully rewrite the sequel in acknowledgement of Boseman, the film’s director Ryan Coogler, alongside most of the original cast, announced their return to the sequel and a new title.

Paying respects to Wakanda’s signature call of “Wakanda Forever,” the film perfectly encapsulates the high stakes action within the first film, while also displaying strong senses of family, friendship, and loss as a focal point of the story.

The film starts off on an impactful footing, displaying T’Challa’s death and a traditional Wakandan funeral to not only pay homage to his character, but to Boseman’s legacy. Marvel’s famous title sequence even contains only scenes of Boseman’s T’Challa with only silence to truly encapsulate the impact of his work. Beginning with such an emotional focal point leads the rest of the film through a series of heartbreak, grief, and vengeance for the loss of a loved one.

The film immediately follows with a one year time jump, to which Wakanda and its leadership, now Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), are in question of their efforts to share their resources with the rest of the world as previously promised. Because of such intense relations, this circumstance opens the doors to introduce the main antagonist, Namor (Tenoch Huerta).

With discoveries of vibranium, Wakanda’s signature resource, found throughout the Atlantic, Namor and his underwater kingdom seek the help of Wakandans to find the scientist responsible for building such a machine capable of detecting vibranium.

Intimidated by a figure able to infiltrate Wakanda from underwater, Queen Ramonda enlists daughter Shuri (Letitia Wright) and Doja Milaje general Okoye (Danai Gurira) to locate the scientist.
With help from returning CIA agent Everett Ross (Martin Freeman), their searches lead to nineteen year-old MIT student Riri Williams (Domonique Thorne), who was unaware of how much the United States government was using her technology for other harmful procedures.

Followed and found by the CIA while in Williams’ garage and workshop, the three women attempt a stealthy escape, only to be stopped by several of Namor’s top generals and leaders.
While Okoye makes a harsh escape, Shuri and Williams are taken down to Namor’s home of Talokan by his generals.
Okoye returns to Wakanda and is hastily stripped of her title and duties by Queen Ramonda, exclaiming that she has lost her entire family and would not make another mistake within leading her kingdom and letting treacherous events slide.

Not believing that her daughter is truly gone, Ramonda travels to Haiti to retrieve the one person she knows can find Shuri and bring her back undetected: former Wakandan spy and lover of T’Challa, Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o).

Initially hesitant, Nakia ultimately agrees to search for Shuri and Riri, while these two women, now imprisoned in an underwater cave by Namor, question the true motives of the people who captured them.

Shuri is then asked to meet with Namor, who explains the roots of his upbringing and shows Shuri around his home and his people.

Hoping for an alliance with Wakanda, Namor explains his desire to overthrow the surface world for taking everything from him and relates this to Shuri’s situation for a form of trust and sympathy. Shuri is immediately thrown off by this request and tries to explain why an overthrow would not be ideal.

Her explanations are cut short however, as Namor’s general disturbs their time to say that Ramonda has requested to speak to Namor on the surface to ask of her daughter and the safety of Wakanda.

Namor meets with Ramonda and harshly proclaims that if Wakanda does not help his home of Talokan in their efforts of war, then the war will quickly turn on Wakanda and towards Ramonda herself.

While this interaction is occurring, Nakia sneaks into the cave where Shuri and Riri are being held and kills Namor’s guards holding them. They make a swift escape, but not without Shuri’s worries of a war soon to come Wakanda’s way because of Nakia’s actions.

Upset with a betrayal of trust, Namor gathers his people to prepare for war against Wakanda, no longer desiring an alliance with them. On the surface at Wakanda, however, there are talks on how to avoid war and defeat Namor without the protection of the Black Panther anymore.

These talks do not last long, as Namor and his people flood various parts of Wakanda as an immediate strike.

While those such as the Doja Milaje and the Jabaris, led by ruler M’Baku (Winston Duke), are fighting on the ground, Queen Ramonda and Riri are confronted by Namor in the royal palace, who angrily floods the meeting hall where the two women stand.

While members of Wakanda are able to revive Williams, Queen Ramonda is not as fortunate, marking yet another loss and funeral within Shuri’s life from her family.

With nowhere left to turn and morale at a loss, Shuri decides to revisit a topic she has not thought of since T’Challa’s death: a way to recreate the plant needed to fulfill the role of the Black Panther.

With assistance from scientist Riri Williams, they both work towards different aspects of victory: Shuri with recreating the plants, previously burned by fallen villain Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), and Williams with perfecting an IronMan-like suit of her own design in order to fight.

Both deciding on Namor’s weakness as drying out his skin and keeping him away from water, both women also work towards a solution to draw Namor away from the sea. With finally creating the plant of the Black Panther, and what could have potentially saved her brother, Shuri makes the bold decision of drinking the elixir to become the new Black Panther.

Entering the Ancestral Plane, Shuri then confronts an individual that is surely not her mother: Killmonger. He explains that part of Shuri chose to see him, as both of their motives for becoming the Black Panther are rooted in vengeance of a loved one.

Refusing such a remark, Shuri returns back to reality, but seemingly as a more harsh version of herself. Embracing the role as the new Black Panther and protector of Wakanda, Shuri plots to lure Namor and his army out in order to kill him once and for all.

Disguising their ship as another device of locating vibranium, Shuri and the Wakandans surprise Namor and his army on the Atlantic and begin a violent battle. The Wakandans and Taloken army are evenly matched while in battle, while Shuri and Namor fight hand-to-hand in a Wakandan aircraft leading towards the desert.

Within some of Namor’s moments of weakness, he overpowers Shuri and stabs her with her own spear.

An injured Shuri, now seemingly at the end of the line, remembers the wise words of her mother and good times with her brother to remind her of what’s right: nobility over hostility. She pulls herself off of the spear and overcomes Namor, and while she has every means to kill him, she decides to spare him instead.

In exchange for letting Namor go, Shuri and Wakanda will protect Taloken from being known or harmed by the rest of the world as long as Namor calls off his war against Wakanda.
They both agree to this compromise, and everything seems to finally ease out of tension within the last moments of the film.

Shuri establishes herself as a noble leader of Wakanda, Riri Williams is sent off with new knowledge to carry into her life back home (and within her upcoming Disney+ series), and Wakanda works back towards a place of peace within their borders.

A quick look back into Taloken, Namor’s general questions their leader about their alliance, to which Namor explains that when the rest of the world turns on Wakanda, then the nation will come to them for help, leading into relations with Namor in the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The film ends with a beautiful tribute to T’Challa’s death, with Shuri performing a traditional funerary rite of burning her funeral clothes to help herself move on from grief.
While there is also a mid-credits scene to top the film off, I’ll save that detail for anyone actively wanting to see the scene and film for themselves.

Overall, I happily give Black Panther: Wakanda Forever a 10/10. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is an outstanding film with immense appreciation not only for its storyline, but for its treatment of the characters and actors within. Even with the use of a variety of languages throughout the film, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever allows viewers of all cultures to enjoy many, if not all, aspects of what the film can offer. The film uses beautiful imagery, cultural customs, and yet another well-executed soundtrack and score to carry throughout the incredible storyline. From well-executed action scenes to tearful interactions and goodbyes, the film rightfully deserves every positive accolade imaginable. Marvel Studios not only pays thoughtful respects to Chadwick Boseman and his character T’Challa, but they also determined a new legacy within the Marvel Cinematic Universe that I cannot wait to see unfold.

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is now available in theaters.


Illustration by Ariel Landry