Black Panther: Wakanda Forever12¦ 4K UHD, Blu-ray, DVD
The world of film was shocked by the news of the death of rising star Chadwick Boseman from colon cancer in 2020. The actor joined the MCU in 2016, as he took on the part of Black Panther, which culminated in him starring in the film of the same name in 2018.
With the huge success of the first film, Marvel already had a sequel in mind, but with its lead actor’s passing, and their decision not to recast another actor in the role, they had to pivot in another direction. This then, is plan B.
Due to an undisclosed illness, the nation of the Wakanda lose their leader, King T’Chalia. With no natural heir to take his place, his mother Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) finds herself having to lead her mourning nation.
Just after a year after his death, Princess Shuri (Letitia Wright) learns of a device that has been created by a scientist that can detect the extremely rare and powerful resource vibranium, which can be found in abundance in Wakanda. Shuri learns however, that this device has located it elsewhere, which is news to her, as it was thought that their home was the only place it could be found. Apparently not.
This location doesn’t just home vibranium however, but a whole new nation of people that have remained hidden for all these years, until now. And its leader Namor (Tenoch Hueta) isn’t happy about others poking their noses into their business. So much so that he’s quite prepared to put up a fight for it, and take on whoever gets in his way, and if this means all of Wakanda, so be it.
But without their fearless leader in T’Chalia, who is there to protect Wakanda from this new foe?
It was a huge surprise when Marvel announced they weren’t recasting the role of Black Panther for its sequel, out of respect for Boseman. It’s odd that they were willing to retire a member of the MCU on such an emotional response so quickly, as audiences have become fully accustomed to superhero mantles being passed on; look at all the Batmans there have been on the big screen, for instance, since Tim Burton’s 1989 film with Michael Keaton in the lead. Yes it’s unusual circumstances, with its excellent lead dying after just one film, but the principle is exactly the same - stick someone else in the damn suit and audiences, for the most part, will be happy.
And perhaps their ruling with their hearts instead of their heads was a huge mistake where this film is concerned, because as plan b’s go, this is a disaster.
Not only did this franchise lose its titular hero, it also lost its plot – literally. The story is embarrassingly weak, and comes across as a first idea just to get something out there. And it stinks.
One of the traits of a superhero film is that it must have a balance of good and evil. And for all the superheroes that are out there, they all have an equivalent nemesis, with many of them just as well known as their superhero counterpart, so for every Superman there’s a Lex Luthor.
Unfortunately for this film, the main aggressors are just terribly dull; the Taiokans are the unsavoury mix of Smurfs with James Cameron’s Na’vi’s from his Avatar franchise. They live under water and there really isn’t anything that remarkable about them. The same can be said for their leader, Namor, who has as much presence and personality as the water he lives in. It’s rare to find a nemesis these days who is as dull and dreary as this, but Marvel have nailed it.
And the whole plot is embarrassingly generic, lacking any signs of originality. It also lacks any real action, with roughly only three scenes where it kicks off, and it barely does that. This is made worse by the fact that the film is a bum-numbing two hours and forty minutes long, which it simply pads out from the off.
Undeniably the film is quite moving when referring to the passing of T’Chalia, and in turn Boseman at the same time, throughout the film, but this only compounds the fact that it sorely misses his presence. Actually it just misses the presence of an actual superhero, which these kinds of films rely on.
Director Ryan Coogler, who directed the original, shows he just doesn’t have any grip on the material or what the film is about, with its bloated story that really does lack any kind of direction. It needed the firmest of hands, at a time when it appears that Coogler’s were made of jelly.
It could be argued that it is in fact an origins story, as the Black Panther baton gets passed on, but it just takes too much time in doing so, and in the most torridly dull fashion. Sadly this is a film that is completely devoid of spectacle and wonder, making for a disappointingly turgid experience.
And when you consider that Boseman was the best part about the original film, which if we’re being brutally honest – as we always are – wasn’t a particularly good film in the first place, this feels like a struggle that just didn’t pay off.
The film promises that the Black Panther will return, but really, on this evidence there isn’t any great hurry.