Five years feels like a long time to get Black Panther Wakanda Forever out to screen, and the wait is worth it. That’s because Chadwick Boseman passed away and the screenplay had to be retooled to not only honour this actor but also recognise the legacy he left behind. I had huge expectations, and was not disappointed.
The world is less one hero, and part of the plot concerns how to move on. A year has passed since T’Challa’s death. Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) lost her son and has no time to cry, and Princess Shuri (Letitia Wright) is burying herself in her work, trying to regrow the flower destroyed from the first film. Those who consume its nectar gain the power of the Black Panther.
Meanwhile, other nations are making a power play. They want Vibranium, a rare metal which helped this nation turn into the superpower that it is. However, Queen Ramonda says no and warns that nations will go to war to possess and use its power not for the greater good–much like everything the introduction from the first film revealed. This country even fought for it until the tribes finally united.
Aside from the little bit of material that the United States managed to get to make Captain America’s shield, any other bits are guarded under lock and key.
Cue in one covert operation gone wrong, and soon, we learn another world developed under the sea who has an even deeper relationship with the metal. Their leader is Namor (Tenoch Huerta), the king of the sea. His goal to do away with the surface world is faithful to how he was introduced in the comic books, and this adaptation makes a beautiful step away from that lore. His people were originally Mayan, and I love this explanation in how that civilization supposedly disappeared. But not everyone flocked to the sea. Those who remained were conquered, and those who adapted saw it upon themselves to save their fellow people.
Namor’s other name is K’ul’ku’kan and is revered as a feathered serpent god who is probably as powerful as Quetzalcoatl. While I’m digging all this quasi-mythical babble going on in the film, the only exposition that’s missed is if he’s even worshipped as such. There’s other details which I want to delve deep into, but that’d be spoiling too much during the first weekend of Wakanda Forever’s release. On the surface level, the costume design looks fantastic, and as for whether all that weight is practical for swimming with, we have to suspend disbelief somewhere!
But as for what I enjoyed from this movie is how legacies matter, and why Black Panther shouldn’t be forgotten. This movie is all about Shuri. She’s unable to mourn the death of her brother and in this state, can easily make a deal with the devil. Namor’s pointy ears are more pronounced for a reason. When she gets caught up in his plot to destroy the surface world, she has to decide if she’ll be a fighter for peace, like Bast, or become pure vengeance, whom Sekhmet played a huge thematic role in the past film. A deeper look into who they are can be found in a part article of mine. Here, I didn’t expect any spiritual shenanigans for this sequel. Instead, I’m guessing it’s all being saved for when Hercules from Love and Thunder goes hunting for Thor, and he may well be asking the gods for help since all I can see is a stalemate when they first clash.
All these references to the proto-Egyptian versions of these figures aren’t as played up in this sequel like before. I’m not disappointed, since these movies are not about the gods. However, when considering the Disney Plus series Moon Knight revealed they live amongst us, I can’t help but wonder if they will ever interfere with human affairs. Bast appeared in Thor’s movie. Her inclusion was not entirely random and her origins are excellently summed up on Sportskeeda.
But as for the drama going on with this film, we truly see just how well this country can weather the storm after all that’s said and done. This film shows us why this country’s future is uncertain. Although the subplot between what the USA wants with the Wakandan Empire wobbles, we’re left wondering what’s going on. This movie is self contained enough to establish who’s next in line to be the Panther. But as for why this matters in the grander story arc, we’re left waiting for certain entities (perhaps the Eternals are making a plan) to show up to try stealing the metal again.
4 Stars out of 5