Review: Wakanda Forever Moves Marvel In New Direction

BAG PANTHER:  The first Black Panther movie was a commercial and critical success. It also garnered 1.382 billion dollars on a budget of only 200 million.

BAG PANTHER: The first Black Panther movie was a commercial and critical success. It also garnered 1.382 billion dollars on a budget of only 200 million.

Brock Sutter, Editor

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the sequel to Marvel’s 2018 Black Panther, released on November 11th, 2022 to excellent reviews. Written and directed by Ryan Coogler, who also directed the first Black Panther, the movie has been praised by audiences and critics worldwide. Considering the large impact both Black Panther and its sequel have had on the movie industry, I think it deserves a review of its own here on the Word. Before you read any further, do know that this article will contain heavy spoilers. With a runtime of 161 minutes, it is quite the lengthy film. If it isn’t something you’re inspired to watch, by all means continue reading.


The sequel has been long anticipated since the original came out in 2018, but its fate was unknown considering the tragic passing of the star of the original, Chadwick Boseman. Unknown to most except his family, Boseman had been struggling with colon cancer for some time, and sadly lost the battle in August 2020. However, Marvel decided to go ahead with the sequel without recasting Boseman’s role. I think that this was a very tasteful decision considering how passionate Boseman was about Black Panther. A recast would have felt wrong somehow, even though Marvel hasn’t shied from recasting in the past. The film works Boseman’s passing into the plot in a way that isn’t cheesy or distasteful, which again was masterful on the part of Coogler. It is decisions like these that have earned this movie its (current) $682 million off of a $250 million budget. 


The movie begins with the passing and funeral of Chadwick Boseman’s character T’Challa from an illness incurable even by advanced Wakandan technology. The plot centers around his sister Shuri and her helping run the country even while grieving the death of her brother. While this is happening, a CIA sea expedition to find the fictional metal of vibranium is attacked by a mysterious force of humanoid, blue sea-dwelling creatures. Because of a misunderstanding, the American government believes this attack to be from Wakanda. In reality, it is revealed to Shuri that the attack was caused by the underwater kingdom of Talokan and their leader with the power of flight, Namor, who demands for Wakanda to bring him the scientist responsible for the vibranium expedition. For the rest of the movie, Shuri must find out how to stop Namor without causing a war with America or Talokan.


 First: what was good with the movie. I’ll start with the absolute most obvious: the acting. It was phenomenal. These actors played their hearts out. Letitia Wright, who plays T’Challa’s sister Shuri, did one of the best jobs I’ve seen in Marvel. Queen Ramonda (Angela Basset), MIT student and extremely intelligent scientist Riri (Dominique Thorne) and main antagonist Namor (Tenoch Huerta), and more all cared deeply about the movie, and it showed. Second, the plot. It made you care. Every major emotional moment felt earned, and the exposition about the Talokan society really shook up the movie. There was a running theme of ‘honorable versus actionable’ throughout the movie that connected the decisions the characters made in a way that really showed development in their mindsets. It was a refreshing display of professional writing that I haven’t seen out of Marvel in a while.

Unfortunately, I cannot say that the movie was perfect in every way. Although I just praised the writing, there were definitely a couple times where the cheesy Marvel humor came through, and those were the low points of the movie. While I understand that comedy keeps casual audiences engaged, it could be made much more appropriate for the scenes it was in. With that being said, Wakanda Forever was much better about this than previous Marvel movies. Still, though, I wish it had been worked in a little better. Next, I didn’t like what they did with a couple of characters. For instance, for Dominique Thorpe’s character of MIT scientist Riri, Marvel had themselves a unique new character with lots to bring to the table with her intelligence and wit– and then turned her into Iron Man 2. Instead of new technology, she just builds another Iron Man suit, calls herself Ironheart, and does the same exact thing Tony Stark had been doing for a decade. With infinite possibilities on what her intelligence can create, she just copies Iron Man? It just seemed weak to me. 

Overall, though this movie had a couple moments that could have used improving, the whole film was a diverse, thought-provoking labor of love that showed some of Marvel’s best qualities. If Marvel were to move more in the direction that Wakanda Forever took, Marvel might be regarded less as dime-a-dozen superhero flicks and more as emotional, plot-driven films that have real meaning instead of 3 hours of one-liners.

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