Honoring a Legacy in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”


Caroline Cortright, Staff Writer

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” faced the task of starting the journey of a new Black Panther while honoring the past one. Additionally, after the success of the first “Black Panther” and as Marvel’s latest film, the project had much to fulfill. In spite of some flaws in pacing, the action film serves its purpose with powerful emotion.

The most meaningful duty of the film was honoring Chadwick Boseman, the previous Black Panther and a beloved actor, after his tragic passing from cancer in 2020. From this, there is real emotion and moving, heartfelt moments throughout the movie. The opening logo for Marvel Studios allows a moment of silence as it shows clips of the actor, and the title card fades to the words, “Dedicated to our friend Chadwick Boseman.” Danai Gurira, the actress of the character Okoye, was one of many cast members to speak about Boseman. In an interview with Collider, she said, “He would always give us so much encouragement about doing great things, and he had such great taste. That was really an anchoring aspect throughout the process for me.” Many of those who worked on “Wakanda Forever” have talked about similar inspiration from Boseman.

As the film pays tribute to Boseman and his character T’Challa, it also focuses on the future of the character’s family. It follows Shuri, played by Letitia Wright, and her mother Queen Ramonda, played by Angela Bassett, as they mourn the loss of their brother and son while leading their country of Wakanda. Amongst threats to Wakanda’s power at its most vulnerable state is Namor, played by Tenoch Huerta, and his people. The leaders must protect Wakanda alongside warriors Okoye, Nakia, and M’baku, whose roles are reprised by Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong’o, and Winston Duke.

“Wakanda Forever” thrives in many aspects, especially in the performances of its actors. The portrayal of grief and mourning is poignant and impactful. The feelings of the characters are real, raw, and expand beyond fiction. On how the cast represented the messages of grief in the movie, Nyong’o said, “What they did is they embraced the truth.” However, with the many topics the film aims to cover, the movie has a lengthy run time of 2 hours and 41 minutes. This earns the spot of the second-longest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Due to this extensive length, certain parts felt drawn-out and longer than necessary.

Despite some criticisms, the film is rich in heart and contains touching displays of grief that reach beyond the screen. The pain and appreciation of all who worked on the project is translated directly through the film and to the audience. The story beautifully pays tribute to the past Black Panther while stepping into the future of the next character to hold the title. “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” would be recommended to anyone who enjoys superhero films with emotional stories and is in theaters now.