“Wakanda Forever” doesn’t live up to first, but delivers in spirit


Chaz Nomura, Staff Writer

Losing Chadwick Boseman seemed like a heavy blow to the Black Panther franchise. So making this movie at all just seemed like the wrong choice, but after watching it, I was surprisingly won over by it. 

It more than justifies its existence because it reminds the audience how compelling the universe and supporting characters in the first “Black Panther” movie were. They were all more than enough to carry a sequel. Seeing the characters mourn T’Challa and reflect on his legacy was powerful and the impact of those scenes wasn’t taken away by the larger plot which was also pretty well done.

In comparison to the other phase four Marvel movies, “Black Panther 2: Wakanda Forever” had higher expectations to surpass, and when it comes to Marvel sequels, the bar is set higher than most. 

A lot of the characters are put through the emotional ringer not because of T’Challa’s death but the intense threat that the antagonist Namor (Tenoch Huerta) poses. 

In addition, the performances of the cast are excellent across the board. Angela Bassett as Queen Ramonda has an immaculate scene that includes some of the best acting in the MCU. Tenoch Huerta as Namor is an amazing villain and he showcases his raw power and intimidation throughout the movie. Furthermore, his motivations are strong and it’s nice to see his past and how it enhances his urge to destroy Wakanda and seek revenge for his mother. 

Another plus is how much better the cinematography of this movie is compared to the first. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the first movie more for its story and character development. But in terms of the cinematography and visual effects, this is a big step up from the first Black Panther and the last MCU movie “Thor: Love and Thunder.” Luckily, Ryan Coogler, who also directed the original Black Panther, was given a sufficient budget to match his artistic vision.

In addition to Coogler’s vision, the audience is greeted by Swedish composer Ludwig Görannson, reprising his role as a score composer, and he does not disappoint. Much like his work on the first Black Panther, his work in the sequel is excellent. I particularly love how the music contributes to each environment, specifically the ambient underwater city of Talokan. In addition, the score was a perfectly natural transition from the first movie’s world. 

However, every movie has its weaknesses. To begin, the film was too long. Coming in at 2 hours, 45 minutes. Some viewers don’t think the length was the problem; rather it was the lack of focus and the number of characters that were juggled around. 

Dominque Thorne as Ironheart is an amazing addition to the franchise. However, once viewers watch the second half of the film, she isn’t focused on as much, despite being central to the plot in the first half. Similarly, N’Daku, played by Winston Duke, doesn’t have the impact one would expect throughout the entire movie. 

The first half of the movie lacks a sense of who our main character is. While it feels a little less natural when the second half tries to insist it is Letitia Wright’s Shuri, sister of T’Challa, is the focal point, the first half should have focused on her and developed more of her character traits that come into play during the second half. 

But, while this is a flawed and at times unfocused film, it nonetheless feels like it was made with genuine love and care. Although not as good as the first, I don’t know how it could’ve been due to circumstances outside of anyone’s control. This is the best sequel viewers could’ve gotten without T’Challa and it’s truly an amazing movie to remind how much viewers missed the world of Wakanda. With Coogler’s sequel, Wakanda certainly will live on forever, just like Chadwick Boseman’s legacy.