It is feasible to believe that no other MCU film to date has had a bigger emotional mountain to climb than Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
The first film was such a mammoth success (financially, critically, and even Oscar wise) that a sequel was inevitable from the get go. Then, of course, tragedy struck when the world lost Chadwick Boseman in August of 2020, leaving the sequel in serious jeopardy. Also add in the fact that this would be the final film in Phase 4 of the MCU, and you can see why this film had a lot to accomplish.
The film starts off as expected, a year after the untimely death of King T’Challa from an undisclosed illness (for which Shuri tried her best to find a cure for.) Moving on has understandably been a struggle for Wakanda, but Wakanda’s Queen, Ramonda (Angela Bassett) is firm in letting other nations know Wakanda is still a nation not to be taken lightly, even after the death of T’Challa.
It is soon discovered that Wakanda is not the only place on earth that has vibranium (one of the most powerful maguffins in recent cinematic memory). Some has also been discovered on the ocean floor, which is ruled by Namor (Tenoch Huerta), an oceanic mutated being of incredible strength, power, and the ability to fly (don’t let the size of the wings on his ankles fool you). To keep his kingdom (Talokan) safe, he is set to kill the scientist responsible for making a Vibranium detector. Shuri (Letitia Wright) and Okoye (Danai Gurira) set out to find her first, amazed to find out it is just a 19 year old college wiz kid, Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne). The Queen also sends out her late son’s love interest, Nakia (Lupita N’Yongo) to help out as well.
This sequel seems to be split a bit amongst some viewers ( at least what I can see at the moment), but one thing I feel we can all agree on is the film is long. In fact, at 2 hours and 41 minutes, the only MCU film that was longer was 2019’s Avengers: Endgame (which really had to be that long, considering all that film had to accomplish).
Still, while Black Panther: Wakanda Forever had a lot to accomplish itself, there were still some things that did seem rather unneeded in the long run. Personally, while I do like Martin Freeman (a rather underrated actor), his return as Agent Ross was nothing more than a throwback, even if we did get the revelation of who his former wife is (which I won’t spoil, only to say that the actress playing her is always a delight to have in a movie.)
Parents, if your kids have seen the original (or any MCU movie), your kid(s) will be okay seeing this one. It is PG-13 mainly for the action and drama. There is no sexuality or even that much profanity.
I admit, I still have that one question lingering in my head: would this have worked had those behind the scenes just recast T’Challa? It does seem like the backlash from fans would be gigantic (far more so than those on social media saying their choices to recast the role.) It would not be new to recast a recurring character of a film series (they did it with Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series, and even recently in the MCU with Thaddeus Ross).
Yet Marvel went the other way, and while the movie does not live up to the original, it is as perfect a tribute to Chadwick Boseman as one could make.