Wakanda Forever is a mixed bag


Courtesy of Disney

Cora Coleman, Writer

Ever since the tragic death of Chadwick Boseman in August of 2020, the character of Black Panther has been a topic of much debate among Marvel fans. Would they continue with the character or retire it? Not missing the chance to make billions of dollars, Disney decided that it would continue the series with Shuri, and thus Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hit theaters on November 11th. 

Now it was fairly obvious that Shuri was going to be the new Black Panther, but I think a better choice for the mantle of Black Panther would have been Okoye or Nakia. They are more combat-focused and built for the role. In the first movie, Shuri was the comic relief and geeky side character. She was not some serious, heroic character that fit the characteristics of the main character. 

Wakanda Forever is a cluttered story for the grand finale of the downward spiral that is Marvel Phase Four. The movie feels like it had a striking conclusion in mind but had no idea how to get there. It feels like multiple different stories rolled into one. The characters wander from one location to another, and it gets tedious after a while.

Now there were some positives, like some of the performances set forward by the actors and the very first and very last scenes. Angela Bassett carries the whole movie on her back with her stellar performance as Queen Ramonda. Some of her scenes of despair made me tear up a little with how well she presented herself. Danai Gurira as Okoye is always delightful to watch with her portrayal of the complex emotions her character feels throughout the movie. I will give Letitia Wright credit for her ability to portray grief and sadness in this story. The very start of the movie was very well written and executed as Shuri desperately tries to save her brother from an undisclosed fatal illness. The audience really feels her struggle as all of her intellect is failing her, and she is unable to save her brother. It’s an incredibly emotional scene as the death of the King deeply affects everyone. It was interesting to see how everybody dealt with this great loss in their own way. The very end of the movie was also another well-depicted and heavy scene. It was a quiet and respectful tribute to the character of T’Challa and Chadwick Boseman at large. There was no snarky humor or over-the-top CGI fight scenes. It was just a calm and thoughtful portrayal of grief and loss with which anyone can sympathize. 

One thing I have to talk about though is the sheer length of it. Wakanda Forever is almost three hours long, and man does it feel like it. Several scenes drag on for way too long and some could have been cut entirely. I completely zoned out during the scene when the antagonist is dragging on with his backstory, or when Okoye and Shuri have a lengthy conversation with a CIA agent, even though a phone call would have sufficed.

All in all, it’s a mixed bag. There are definitely things I like about it, but also some major flaws that I can’t help but acknowledge. The MCU has been on the decline ever since Black Widow came out last year, and every TV show and movie produced by Marvel Studios just feels like a jumpstart to introduce and promote the next thing in the lineup. It was an enjoyable decade with Iron Man to Avengers: Endgame, but it’s over now. It’s time to move on to other things without the constraints of the MCU holding us down.