BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER Review; "An Emotional, Uplifting, Tour De Force Of A Blockbuster"

BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER Review; "An Emotional, Uplifting, Tour De Force Of A Blockbuster"

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is now in playing in theaters, and we're now weighing in with more thoughts on what makes Ryan Coogler's emotional and epic sequel so incredible. Some minor spoilers follow!

Review Opinion
By JoshWilding - Nov 11, 2022 10:11 AM EST

Black Panther was released in 2018 to widespread critical acclaim and ended up becoming not only a box office hit, but something of a cultural phenomenon. Following such an impactful movie was never going to be an easy feat for Marvel Studios and filmmaker Ryan Coogler, and the tragic death of Chadwick Boseman only served to add even more pressure to get this follow-up, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, right. They’ve succeeded, though you should be prepared to strap yourself in because this action-packed, astounding blockbuster also happens to be the most emotional, and occasionally even gut-wrenching, MCU movie to date. 

Beginning with T’Challa’s funeral in Wakanda, the entirety of this sequel serves as a beautiful, fitting tribute to both that character and Boseman. There are a whole multitude of scenes you’ll watch with tears in your eyes, and Coogler crafts a rich and heartbreaking narrative that makes us feel the loss of both the character and actor all over again, albeit through the eyes of those who knew and loved him. That’s not to say Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is overly morose or glum, because this is also an uplifting and inspiring tale, with plenty of gripping fight scenes, exciting character developments, and a wholly appropriate amount of humour. 

At the heart of the story is Letita Wright’s Shuri and Angela Bassett’s Queen Ramonda. The former, who was unable to save her brother, reacts to his death by lashing out at the world, and the carefree teenage genius we met in Black Panther now finds herself forced to grow up fast as she struggles to overcome her grief. The Queen, meanwhile, is doing what she can to protect a nation coming under siege from all directions, and both actors deliver work here that, quite frankly, has to rank among the best performances of their respective careers. Wright proves herself a worthy successor to Boseman (we can’t even begin to fathom the pressure she must have felt approaching this role), while any Oscar buzz already surrounding Bassett is entirely deserved. 

Equally deserving of praise is Tenoch Huerta as Namor the Submariner. He now sits alongside the MCU’s handful of truly great villains, and is comfortably up there with the likes of Thanos, Wenwu, and the Green Goblin. Given a fascinating new backstory, K'uk'ulkan is every bit the complicated antagonist as his comic book counterpart and Tenoch finds the right balance of charm, ferocity, and pure power to do this character justice. Dominique Thorne is another big addition to this shard world, of course, and while Riri Williams is essentially a MacGuffin, it’s a decent introduction that’s enhanced the talented performer’s work. If the goal was to get us excited for the Ironheart TV series coming to Disney+, bravo. 

Winston Duke, Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong'o, and Michaela Coel are all also excellent, a relief when it occasionally feels like Black Panther: Wakanda Forever might be trying to service one too many characters. Still, with a much better runtime than Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Thor: Love and Thunder (both of which tried to cram far too much into two hours), the movie gives its story a chance to breathe and successfully fleshes out the characters who need the maximum amount of screentime. This doesn’t really feel like a sequel and works well as the opening chapter in what looks set to be a new era for the Black Panther franchise. A little more M’Baku next time would be welcomed.

With great visuals, another tremendous score from Ludwig Göransson, and fight scenes that are intense, surprisingly brutal, and never bogged down by too much CGI, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a movie that hits all the right beats. However, there’s so much more to it when you look beneath the surface, and it’s the thought-provoking themes and hard-hitting emotion in Coogler and Joe Robert Cole’s screenplay that really singles this movie out as being so extraordinary. The former also ups the ante as a filmmaker, with bigger set pieces, grander ideas, and some absolutely phenomenal shots (even if cinematographer Rachel Morrison is missed) that prove he’d be nothing short of perfect to take the helm of Avengers: Secret Wars.

Whether Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is better than its predecessor will likely be hotly debated, but it’s certainly on par with it. An ambitious superhero movie in its own right, this follow-up also explores what it means to grieve and makes us empathise with its villain, all while telling this story in a way that means you'll truly feel the emotions of its leads. Only faltering when it starts setting up the MCU’s future (in a very awkwardly inserted subplot involving Martin Freeman’s Everett Ross), the sequel has all the makings of an instant classic and is a pitch-perfect note to end what’s proven to be a somewhat hit-and-miss Phase 4 on. Wakanda Forever, indeed. 

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever ranks among Marvel Studios' best movies, and is an emotional, uplifting, tour de force of a blockbuster. Letitia Wright delivers a powerhouse performance, while Angela Bassett’s majestic work will leave you reeling.

BLACK PANTHER Star Letitia Wright Teases Shuri's MCU Return: There's A Lot Coming Up!

BLACK PANTHER Star Letitia Wright Teases Shuri's MCU Return: "There's A Lot Coming Up!"

BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER Concept Art Reveals Deleted Scenes And More Ironheart Action
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MyCoolYoung - 11/11/2022, 10:18 AM
At times, you absolutely feel the length because a lot of this movie is conversations, but man did they deliver. There were a lot of standouts, I actually liked RiRi quite a bit and didn't see her mentioned a lot, but make no mistake Wright stood above all.

4.5/5 for me
Chappers - 11/11/2022, 12:48 PM
@MyCoolYoung - Wright was great, leading up I questioned her possible presence as the lead and ability to be the main character going forwards but she killed it
MyCoolYoung - 11/11/2022, 1:24 PM
@JakeyChappers - we pretty much saw her go through the whole grieving process over the film and she crushed every single one
MosquitoFarmer - 11/11/2022, 10:19 AM
I really don't care for going to the movies as much anymore (unfortunately), even though the few times I've gone since the pandemic I've certainly enjoyed it. I might give this one a go when the audiences die down. I saw the first in theaters cause my mother wanted me to see it and she wanted to see it again; I found it very good but circumstantially insanely overrated. But the more I sat with it, it found its place with me. Darn good stuff.
McMurdo - 11/11/2022, 12:06 PM
@MosquitoFarmer - it's good man. It almost doesn't feel like a MCU film honestly. Coogler fully in control.

It's far better than the first film imo
MosquitoFarmer - 11/11/2022, 12:12 PM
@McMurdo - I haven't seen an MCU film since Endgame, but especially in the more recent weeks I'd really like to see this one on the big screen.
McMurdo - 11/11/2022, 12:26 PM
@MosquitoFarmer - I feel that. For the record. It's far better than end game, has great dialogue and direction, and legit doesn't even feel like it fits in with the rest of phase 4. It was pretty damn epic
MosquitoFarmer - 11/11/2022, 12:31 PM
@McMurdo - Sorry, meant I haven't seen an MCU film *in theaters* since Endgame. Seen all of them otherwise.
PoolParty - 11/11/2022, 10:19 AM
This has to be a joke right? This movie is so boring
valmic - 11/11/2022, 10:50 AM
@PoolParty - You haven’t even seen it
PoolParty - 11/11/2022, 1:09 PM
@micvalpro - it’s been out for 2 days now you [frick]ing genius
valmic - 11/11/2022, 2:14 PM
@PoolParty - That doesn’t mean you’ve seen it sweetiepie
PoolParty - 11/15/2022, 8:32 AM
@micvalpro - it means I have because I’m not a peasant like you who can’t afford it you clown
GhostDog - 11/11/2022, 10:21 AM
Letitia Wright and Angela Bassett give tour de force performances. Coogler is special with giving humanity and letting actors perform; he’s so good at finding the emotional grounded aspects. And his dialogue is affecting.

The throne room emotional explosion from Ramonda is the BEST ACTING IN THE MCU period.
MyCoolYoung - 11/11/2022, 10:33 AM
@GhostDog - he really allowed them the floor to really act and channel a lot of that relife emotions
GhostDog - 11/11/2022, 10:46 AM
@MyCoolYoung - which you do not get acting like this in a lot of MCU movies. If ever. It’s rare in blockbusters as a whole imo. That’s a talent of a good director, to allow their performers to find and showcase their performances. To encourage that.
newhire13 - 11/11/2022, 11:31 AM
@GhostDog - My heart broke for Okoye in that scene. Like come on Ramonda, she tried but she was just way overmatched 😞 And then how she threw it in her face that she stood with Killmonger when he took the throne. You can tell that always stuck with Ramonda, even though Okoye was fulfilling her sworn duties and their traditions and openly questioned, pushed back and fought Killmonger. Plus, everyone in that room (except M’ Baku) did the same. I digress though, just really great stuff lol.
McMurdo - 11/11/2022, 12:06 PM
@GhostDog - Cooglers camera work in alot of this is next level
GhostDog - 11/11/2022, 3:52 PM
@McMurdo - yessir. I think they let him be himself here. Creed showed you how inventive this guy can get with the camera.

The underwater stuff here is gold
noahthegrand - 11/11/2022, 10:43 AM
A great take on Namor The Submariner. Like he’s as much of a borderline personality horny fish man as in the comics but he feels so much more like a mythological demigod in this take. And you see a range of emotions from him as a guy who is a good leader trying to protect his kingdom but is also unhinged because of his fear of losing it. He pulls off suave yet terrifying and every time he’s not on screen I wonder when he’s coming back.

We didn’t get enough of Riri but the building blocks are there for a great character.

Shuri surprised me with how much I liked her in this.

Basset giving an Oscar worthy performance

Namor’s people were threatening and in some scenes scary. They were menacing and felt like an actual threat.

I loved getting more of an idea of what the geopolitics of the Mcu looks like and the world building. I guess the cia is going to be behind the Thunderbolts. I can’t wait for Namor’s return. His people and their vibranium and natural super strength is a big deal that dramatically changes the world. I wonder if he ever got involved with Captain America fighting nazis in this continuity?

Disappointed there wasn’t a Doctor Doom reference but that’s not a fair complaint. The movie works well on its own terms and is emotional, fun, sad, and exciting all in one.

OmegaDaGrodd - 11/11/2022, 10:55 AM
@noahthegrand -
Agree that this was an excellent take on Namor that really delivered his key elements while also leaving meat on the bone for future appearances. Even beyond characterization, the physicality they gave him showed so much damn arrogance and brutality. His fighting style was hard as hell. As soon as Shuri woke up on that beach disoriented my wife audibly said "oh no shuri" because she knew that dude was about to fly outta nowhere and lay the smackdown

Also really loved how (mostly) well this sewed the seeds for Phase 5s earth based events. Phase 4 has really done a ton of table setting and this really made a lot of it coalesce while showing where they may go with Cap 4, Thunderbolts, Ironheart and perhaps even the Dark Avengers if they end up going that route. I feel like they may be setting thi gs up to adapt a version of SEIGE that either involves Wakanda and New Asgard, or puts the focus squarely on the global community vs Wakanda and perhaps Atlantis as well
ShimmyShimmyYA - 11/11/2022, 11:56 AM
@OmegaDaGrodd - yeah seems like that rumor about future plans for Val setting a plan to conquer wakanda were true. Shoutout dreyfuss cause she made me despise her
OmegaDaGrodd - 11/11/2022, 2:17 PM
@ShimmyShimmyYA - yep, hate her already. You can tell she's a master manipulator, which is going to be interesting on a grander scale. Marvel's kinda gotten away from showing the utility of Spies but WF really brought it back home, and now having a spy type in leadership can make for interesting storytelling
ShimmyShimmyYA - 11/11/2022, 3:28 PM
@OmegaDaGrodd - it’s like an evil fury. She wasn’t even willing to consider the possibility that wakanda was the victim not the aggressor, just all excuses for her to justify an invasion. I hope they pack her ass up
StSteven - 11/11/2022, 7:17 PM
@OmegaDaGrodd - Wait wait wait just a doggone minute there. So you're telling me that all the stuff that I've been reading in the Internet (and certain sites) has been proven to not be true? Like, that Namor doesn't look physically like someone who swims all the time and isn't in good shape, much less those silly wings on his ankles and those piercings (and let's not even get into the fact that he's Hispanic because in the comics he's... Asian with mutant eyebrows?). And that Shuri would never make a good lead character in this movie because she's just an immature care-free kid and DEFINITELY wouldn't make a good BP and certainly wouldn't stand her own against Namor who does/doesn't have the same strength as Hulk and Thor (in water)? And that Riri isn't just a throw-away character inserted in this movie to set up her D+ show? Heavens to Mergatroid!

Finally, you have the audacity to suggest that Marvel has had a plan with Phase 4 all along and they're not just throwing shit at the wall to see what sticks? Table setting indeed! You sir, I say, you sir are full of malarky and I will hear no more of your poppycock! (Please read this in the voice of a Southern US lawyer, preferably as an anthropomorphic chicken in a white suit and a bolo tie).
Sikpup - 11/11/2022, 10:52 AM
Black Panther: Exposition Forever.
I have no idea what movie you watched, Josh - but the one I saw was an absolute snore fest of tedious exposition. Can someone explain just what the point of Agent Ross was in this movie? Namor didn't come across as a villain at all, and it made the stakes less dramatic. My daughter summed it up perfectly: "It was like sitting through a 3-hour funeral". Letitia Wright cannot carry a film and Dominique Thorne was meh...
Considering how the rest of Phase 4 was, I guess this was a perfect way to end it. What a huge disappointment.
McMurdo - 11/11/2022, 12:12 PM
@Sikpup - nonsense. Namor was quite literally the only villain. And he was a great villain who you could actually understand and sympathize with in many ways.

The scene where he smokes the Queen and he says "BURY YOUR DEAD" was heavy af
mackmick761 - 11/11/2022, 12:30 PM
@Sikpup - the negative reviews are people who ACTUALLY saw this bore fest
Sikpup - 11/11/2022, 4:07 PM
@mackmick761 - Truth. It was so tedious. I kept begging for it to be over. I was looking forward to it too. Loved the first film. This one was a giant turd sandwich.
HeavyMetal4Life - 11/11/2022, 11:17 AM
"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever ranks among Marvel Studios' best movies, and is an emotional, uplifting, tour de force of a blockbuster. Letitia Wright delivers a powerhouse performance, while Angela Bassett’s majestic work will leave you reeling."

Spot on, though I would add Tenoch Huerta to the praise as well. He did a fantastic job as Namor, who in his own right was an absolute beast of an antagonist.
McMurdo - 11/11/2022, 12:12 PM
@HeavyMetal4Life - him and Bassett and Letitia were were stars of the fil.
HeavyMetal4Life - 11/11/2022, 12:13 PM
@McMurdo - 100% agree. I think Leticia gets the top place for her performance, I thought she did a terrific job. If Bassett had been in the whole film, she would have gotten top spot from me.
mackmick761 - 11/11/2022, 12:29 PM
@HeavyMetal4Life - 1st place in an ugly girl contest is still an ugly girl contest. THIS IS NOT A GOOD MOVIE
mackmick761 - 11/11/2022, 12:31 PM
@HeavyMetal4Life - This is one of the WORST movies
GreedoSarducci - 11/11/2022, 3:17 PM
@mackmick761 - beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I thought it was great.
ymk700 - 11/11/2022, 11:21 AM
7 out of 10 for me. Good, but not great.

A lot of mixed emotions. The absence of Chadwick was definitely felt.

I feel like Coogler did the absolute best considering the circumstances. But it felt like a Black Panther movie without the real Black Panther.

Letitia Wright absolutely nailed her role, but she's not BP. Chadwick is.

Could have cut out Everett Ross and Riri Williams' storylines completely, and the movie would have been better for it.

Namor was awesome though. Look forward to seeing more of him.

I will have to watch it again to fully digest.
mackmick761 - 11/11/2022, 12:28 PM
@ymk700 - LIAR this movie is a solid 4
ymk700 - 11/11/2022, 2:52 PM
@mackmick761 - you done yet?
newhire13 - 11/11/2022, 11:23 AM
It was striking catching up with Shuri now. Until now we’ve only ever seen her as T’Challa’s smiling, joke cracking, smart ass little sister. It was heartbreaking to see her so angry and lost. A shell of herself. Liked that they leaned into her practical way of thinking and her tendency to turn up her nose at tradition. Interesting too, when they were talking about her intelligence and how people didn’t really take to it when she was younger and that she mentioned T’Challa teaching her. Clearly she surpassed him (and they should have showed that aspect of him more) but I like that they establish that he was pretty intelligent in his own right and that he helped guide that aspect of her.
DoubleD - 11/11/2022, 11:25 AM
Great Review. Off to a 12:30 showing of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever party of 4. I'm Extremely excited deserves 2 large popcorns and 4 pops :)

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