Grieving might be the biggest element in the sequel of Black Panther titled Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. We know that Wakanda Forever is not the original story for the second film of Black Panther, but tragedy happened. In 2020, Chadwick Boseman passed away from colon cancer. Grieving the lost of the Black Panther is (or supposed to be) the heavy element in this film.
The death of Chadwick Boseman pushed the team to find alternative route for the second Black Panther film without Chadwick Boseman. Several possibilities might be considered such as to pass on the Black Panther character to new actor, to continue without black panther, or maybe to not release any sequel.
Wakanda Forever choose the best possibility route, to continue and also to pass on the character. But to open the path to the new Black Panther, there is a need to give a plot on the death of T’Challa so viewers can relate with the plot. The film has a majestic but melancholic opening during the death procession of former-King T’Challa, so does on the prelude.
Marvel shows a heart-breaking prelude. During the logo opening scene, instead showing all various superheroes, Marvel shows all Boseman scenes showing respect to the late actor as part of the earth mightiest heroes.
There is no music, no sound… nothing. Just silence. The collective of Boseman’s superhero career in less than a minute. All the opening scenes from the Marvel logo to the procession of former-King T’Challa, everything is well crafted.
Since the death of the king, his mother is now taking the throne as Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) and Shuri (Letitia Wright) become the melancholic princess who never gets over his brother death. Here comes the problem, after the majestic and melancholic opening, the rest is just full of flaws until the film ends.
Among those big flaws, there are 2 things that are considered fatal and make this film boring to watch. First is that its narrative is unfocused, second is the under-developed characters. Not just side characters, but all the main characters are under-developed.
After Wakanda has a new ruler, the rich country faces a small threat that a group of European soldiers sneakily enters Wakanda to steal Vibranium. After the changes of ruler and many things happen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, instead of showing a new problem approach, Black Panther is still roaming around the topic of the west invasion and imperialism. It’s actually a boring narrative furthermore for a superhero film.
Soon after, European countries try to search for Vibranium outside of Wakanda and they soon find some signals from under the sea which soon bring them disaster. The sea and the vibranium under the sea are protected by another rich and closed country that located under-water lead by Namor (Tenoch Huerta) the Marvel version of Aquaman.
At a glance, Namor is kinda similar to Killmonger from the first film. They are both idealists, righteous, but have a lot of anger and vengeful inside them. They are like modern day moral compass who busy talk about historical events and busy looking for sins from the past era. The background of Namor is very lacking to consider him as the nemesis in this second film. He needs more story development to make his reasons not lame.
Now let’s take a look at this film’s main character. Shuri, the nerd shut-in teenage girl who loves A.I more than fighting. Since previous film, Shuri was just a side-kick character, suddenly she is pushed to be the linchpin of Wakanda Forever. The previously undeveloped character suddenly become main character, so this film focusses on her unfocused journey. For almost the whole film, we are just seeing Shuri as an unstable emotional teenage girl who has trust issue and unstable mental.
This teenage girl is now going to continue the legacy of former-King T’Challa. It is fair to say that Marvel’s decision to continue Black Panther is the right decision, but to put Shuri as the next hero is a flawed decision. Shuri’s development as a character that we can relate never lives up to expectation.
There is also lack of exploration on another important factor in the film, that is the location. There is not enough time for us to explore and to enjoy the so called rich and beautiful countries namely Wakanda and Talokan. The fight moves place too often making both countries seem like some random places for the characters to fight each other.
Wakanda Forever has so much flaw in its film despite a good, majestic opening that make us remember on Chadwick Boseman. Wakanda Forever is not even as good as the first film, not even reach the quality of any Marvel’s best. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is just an unfocused film that showing more the story of an unstable teenage kid instead of a strong story for Wakanda to thrive post-T’Challa.
Our Score (5.5/10)
Title: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Production: Marvel Studio
Director: Ryan Coogler
Writer: Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole
Casts: Letitia Wright, Angela Basset, Lupita Nyong’o, Tenoch Huerta, Martin Freeman