By: Chance Meeting
It is refreshing that, like its predecessor, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has elevated importance that surpasses the rest of the mostly paintby-numbers comic book epics that fill the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It is equally refreshing since this most recent phase of MCU films has had more sinkers than floaters. We are amid comic book movie fatigue. Thankfully through the fatigue, we are still able to get glimpses of brilliance. This film sets itself apart from others because it does not only float, but it soars.
Ryan Coogler and his team had a difficult task in making this sequel after the untimely passing of the late great Chadwick Boseman. A script previously written setting him to reprise his role as the title character.
What could have been a disaster of recasting or writing a character out instead became a vehicle to process the grief the cast and crew felt by the loss of Boseman. In the context of the film, the character of T’Challa was also lost due to an illness that his sister Shuri attempts to cure but unfortunately fails to do so. It’s a strange balance of real life and fiction maintained through brilliant performances by everyone, namely Letitia Wright who plays Shuri, and Angela Bassett as Queen Ramonda. The grief portrayed by them in the film felt like the grief of the actors was realistic.
Wakanda Forever also gives us a well rounded sympathetic villain in Tenoch Huerta, Namor. Much like Killmonger, you understand his motivation and point of view, which makes for a much more compelling character than someone there to be bad for the sake of being negative. Without giving much away, Namor is the leader of his people and wishes to protect his people and do right by them. The same can be said of Shuri, who has passed the mantle and the burden left behind by her brother. Shuri and Namor may conflict but they have the most in common, being two sides of the same coin as protectors of their people.
Their conflict culminates in a meditation of grief and revenge and how pain begets pain unless you break the cycle and work through grief instead of letting it consume you. It is a beautiful sentiment in the wake of such a loss and acts as a powerful tribute to the man who made the character so memorable, not only through his portrayal but for who he was in real life.
There was not a dry eye in the theater during the duration of this movie. Once the credits rolled and “Lift Me Up” by Rhianna played, most of us took in what we watched with a moment of silence. What could have been an impossible task was handled with grace and gravitas by Ryan Coogler and his team. All I have left to say is, rest in power Chadwick Boseman; Wakanda forever.