‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ is a poignant tribute to a beloved actor

Currently, the film has an 84% critic score and 95% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, with a 7.4/10 on IMDb. 


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Chadwick Boseman speaking at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con.

The film world was devastated following the shocking passing of Chadwick Boseman on Aug. 28, 2020. Boseman, who portrayed Marvel’s Black Panther among many other roles, kept his struggle with colon cancer private. These sudden events threw the future of the Black Panther franchise into question.

Development of a Black Panther sequel movie originally began around 2019, just a year after the first film was released, but Boseman’s abrupt passing made proceeding with the film’s development difficult. It was later revealed by director Ryan Coogler that Black Panther would not be recast and a double or digital stand-in for Boseman would not be used in the film. Production began on June 29, 2021, and, after multiple delays, the film was released to the public on Nov. 11 as “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”

The film begins with T’Challa, king of Wakanda and the Black Panther, passing away off-screen (a tasteful choice considering the real-life events leading up to the film’s release). In the wake of the king’s death, his sister Shuri (Letitia Wright), his mother Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), and the citizens of Wakanda seek stability and guidance into the future.

Namor (Tenoch Huerta), the Sub-Mariner, ruler of Talokan, approaches the Wakandans hoping for assistance in eradicating the civilizations of the world. When Queen Ramonda refuses, he vows to destroy the Wakandans with his army of underwater superhumans. In a world that has cast them aside, how can the Wakandans survive, and who will emerge as their leader and the new Black Panther?

This plot is an excellent way of building off of the original Black Panther film. It extends the influence of Wakanda on the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) while not feeling too overly complicated. It is clear to see how the film’s plot was inspired by Boseman’s passing, not just through the death of his character, but in spreading his everlasting positivity and the teachings of all of his roles.

The film boasts an extensive, talented ensemble cast, many of whom returned from the first film. Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, and Winston Duke reprise their roles as Nakia, Okoye, and M’Baku respectively. Martin Freeman also returns as CIA agent Everett Ross. Each actor seems to have settled into their roles more comfortably since the first film, providing the ideal mix of drama and occasional comedy.

The important new characters introduced in “Wakanda Forever” especially stand out among the rest of the cast. Namor has been long-discussed appearing in the MCU, and this new, Mayan-inspired portrayal of him fulfills exactly what Marvel fans would hope for in his character. Dominique Thorne is also a highlight as the relatable, comic-relief character Riri Williams. She is set to reprise her role in the upcoming “Ironheart” series on Disney+.

Queen Ramonda and Shuri easily take the spotlight, however, with Angela Bassett and Letitia Wright both giving it their all as their respective characters. Bassett’s performance is incredibly passionate. Potentially award-winning. Wright’s performance, although lacking in some ways, was an inspired one and provides crucial development for her character.

I loved the adaptation of Namor as a more tribal leader and his perspective of the world.

— Alfonso DiPopolo, Hills freshman

The Trailblazer polled Pascack Hills students for their opinions on the film and the new direction it took the people of Wakanda and the Black Panther. The overall reception from students was very positive, with an average review score of 8/10. Currently, the film has an 84% critic score and 95% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, with a 7.4/10 on IMDb. 

“I enjoyed the world-building as well as the [handling] of grief,” said Hills freshman Alfonso DiPopolo, “I loved the adaptation of Namor as a more tribal leader and his perspective of the world.”

A Hills sophomore who wished to remain anonymous further praised the film’s handling of Boseman’s passing.

“The portrayal of grief was one of my favorite parts of the movie, and really gripping,” they said, “They paid homage to a legendary actor, and I love how they didn’t gloss over the fact that Chadwick Boseman has passed away.”

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” acts as both a fitting send-off to a legendary actor and a means of carrying on his legacy as the Black Panther. Hopefully, this is a sign of more good things to come in the future of the MCU.