In the 30th film installment and final chapter of Phase Four in the MCU, the nation of Wakanda mourns the death of King T'Challa and now they must move forward and protect themselves from invading forces without their beloved leader. At the same time, they are facing a looming threat of the secret underworld nation of Talokan ruled by Namor. After all the anticipation leading up to the release, is Black Panther: Wakanda Forever worth watching?
Is Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Worth Watching?
With the death of Chadwick Boseman and their decision to not recast the role of T'Challa, Marvel and director Ryan Coogler started from scratch on crafting the sequel as they now have to address the fact that the nation of Wakanda no longer has their king. However, the loss wasn't just for the fictional world of the MCU. It was also a loss for the fans, and most especially, the cast and crew who worked closely with the late actor.
As a result, the sequel chose to tackle the theme of grief. The cold open alone established the tone and journey of the characters that we will witness from that point until the very end. It's all about loss and how you move forward. It's what drove the characters to the pivotal moments in the film. As everyone knows, grieving for someone that you loved will always be a difficult process.
However, at the same time, the nation is also facing a looming threat. Now that Wakanda has opened itself to the world as we saw at the end of the first film, it became a target of big forces who are eager to have their most prized resource, Vibranium. Not only that, but it has also affected a secret underwater nation that is hiding from the world and has seen enough cruelty of its own from colonizers.
There is no doubt that Coogler had ambitious plans for the sequel which is an epic-sprawling tale of grief and war. They are two vastly different ideas that would not have come together from an incompetent storyteller. Fortunately, it is under the hands of Coogler, who did not disappoint and was able to pull off this unimaginable feat considering the circumstances they're facing. After all, he chose to tell a great story instead of relying on easter eggs and cameos.
First, the film was able to lovingly pay tribute to and celebrate the legacy of Boseman. We do know that he is going to be a huge missing piece in the sequel that we all have to accept. While that was the case during the entirety of the film, his presence was still felt. They were also able to make us invest in the journey of the then-supporting characters who suddenly now become the new faces of Wakanda now that he's gone.
They also juggled the multiple storylines in a satisfying way whether it's the exploration of grief or the much bigger geo-political issue that they're tackling at the same time which will have large implications for the future of the MCU. There really was an epic feel to the story that they were telling and the stakes felt bigger.
The element that really stood out the most here is how Coogler flexed his filmmaking skills with the introduction of the Talokan nation. The underwater scenes were beautifully-shot and it has some of the most visually-stunning pieces that we've ever seen in the MCU. There's awe and wonder in seeing the people and culture of the Talokans, which have the same vibrancy and beauty as Wakanda.
Every single department also stepped up their game from the first film as they provided another heck of a visual and sound feast all the way through whether it's Ludwig Göransson's memorable score, Ruth E. Carter's gorgeous and eye-popping costume design, and Hannah Beachler's fantastic production design that leveled up with the inclusion of the Talokan nation. Autumn Durald Arkapaw also deserves a big shout-out for her stunning cinematography.
The cast also rose to the occasion, especially Letitia Wright, who is now tasked to carry the film and became the focal point of the story as a result of the circumstances. Danai Gurira also shined a little more than in her past MCU appearances. Dominique Thorne made a wonderful first impression as Riri Williams. Tenoch Huerta is nothing short but impressive as he gave a lot of complexity and nuance to his performance as Namor.
However, the MVP here easily is Angela Bassett, who had such a strong and powerful regal presence as Queen Ramonda in the film. She is behind some of the biggest emotional moments and she nailed every single one of them. If any, she became the symbol of the pain that Wakanda is experiencing from their loss.
The film is truly an emotional experience to watch which is what everyone may have already expected at this point. At the same time, it still has some light and humorous moments that never took away its serious tone and exploration of grief. What Coogler and his team did here wasn't easy and it's really admirable that they pulled off this daunting task with so much weight that they have.
It's also a great conclusion to Phase Four, which has been divisive for some fans. At the same time, they were able to set up a promising future for the Wakanda-adjacent characters and the MCU in its entirety. It's curious to see where they will potentially head in the upcoming projects.
So is Wakanda Forever worth watching? Absolutely. Not only it's a great experience as a spectacle, but you will also legitimately have an emotional response to the journey, especially if you have a strong attachment to the characters or even the MCU as a whole. It's also impressive in its technical aspects which alone is also a good reason to check out this film.
Also, don't forget to stick to its one and only post-credits scene. Without spoiling the details, it's probably the most poignant and heartwarming that they've done yet in the MCU.