Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, a Marvelous Tribute


John Curtis Flynn, Guest Writer

Chadwick Boseman was an icon among Hollywood. With the roles of Jackie Robinson, James Brown and Thurgood Marshall all under his belt, he would soon play a character just as important as those he played before: The Black Panther within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He became the character with ease and won over the hearts of millions during his tenure as the King of Wakanda. But fast forward a couple of years later, and those happy times are what we yearn for more than ever. Chadwick is with the ancestors, and the character he embodied has laid dormant from his passing. 


That was…until now.


Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is the rare sequel that in many ways, builds upon an already great first movie. The first Black Panther succeeded by having a strong villain in Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger, it was a breath of fresh air in aspects, and overall, was a very well put together film. Wakanda Forever takes these achievements and surpasses them with flying colors. Angela Bassett gives what should be an Oscar winning performance as Queen Ramonda; Letitia Wright establishes herself as a rising Hollywood talent, and Tenoch Huerta leaps from the waters as Namor, possibly Marvel’s best antagonist since Thanos.


There isn’t a remotely weak performance from anyone. The cast and crew understood the challenge this film would bring, and they made sure to give it all they had. The reason this movie works so well is that it allows itself to break away from the recent multiverse craze and tackle raw, human grief. It’s a story about how the world can take so much away whenever it chooses, and how we respond to these sudden events. This is the beating heart of Wakanda Forever, and never does it forget what these characters are driven by in their motives. 


If we’re talking about what makes that heart beat so passionately, we must discuss Namor. The writing of this character is an example of how to present a current antagonist, who will eventually turn heroic. I believe this is what was attempted with Scarlet Witch in Doctor Strange 2, but fell short due to specific writing issues. Namor’s origins are simple, yet devastatingly heartbreaking. The injustices to his own people he witnessed as a child are what fuel his burning hatred for the surface world. 


Without getting into spoilers, the one negative I could say about this movie is that there is a subplot that is clearly made to set up a future project or event, and in the bigger picture feels like it could’ve been in a separate project. Yes, this is a cinematic universe and regardless of Chadwick’s passing, the show must go on. I just wish they could’ve found a better place to reveal this.


Returning to what I did like, however, I adore the score of this film. Ludwig Göransson comes back to assist us in this journey of acceptance and loss with a surprising range of diverse tracks. Having seen him win an Oscar for his work on the first Black Panther, I am almost certain he will get nominated again in 2023. As for the film’s album, Rihanna fills in the position for Kendrick Lamar this time and performs her heart out with Lift Me Up over the film’s end credits. It’s a beautiful way to end an already beautifully made film.


Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a grand achievement for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It reminds us of what can happen when a director with a vision takes the source material and elevates it to a higher level. Marvel saved the best film for last to round out Phase 4. Chadwick would be proud. We should be proud. The world should be proud.