Age Rating (UK/US): 12A / PG-13
This weekend I went to see Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the much-anticipated 30th MCU movie and the final Phase 4 release, as well as the sequel to 2018’s Black Panther.
Note: This review does contain spoilers.
One of the biggest shocks to hit the MCU was of course the tragic death of the star of Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman, from colon cancer at the age of just 43 and the movie begins with his character T’Challa passing away from an unspecified illness, with his sister Shuri trying everything she can to try to save him but she is unfortunately too late and there is a moving funeral scene which pays tribute to the actor and the character.
The movie then moves on one year and the Queen Ramonda is sent for by the UN about Wakanda’s refusal to supply the world with vibranium and it appears the UN have sent a task force to try to get the locations of vibranium from Wakanda. Meanwhile, a ship in the Atlantic Ocean is looking for vibranium using a vibranium-detector developed by an American scientist. However the expedition is attacked by some blue-faced people led by Namor who comes from the underwater kingdom of Talokan, with the UN believing Wakanda is responsible.
Meanwhile, Namor pays a visit to Shuri and Ramonda in Wakanda and makes them a deal to find the scientist who made the machine and bring her to him or face his wrath. Shuri and Okoye find the scientist who is in fact a 19 year old student, Riri Williams and try to take her back to Wakanda when they are confronted by the FBI and the blue people, who defeat Okoye and take Shuri and Riri to meet Namor.
However in her anger Ramonda asks Nakia, T’Challa’s girlfriend to launch a rescue mission and in doing so she kills on of Namor’s people, leading to battle lines being drawn between Namor and Wakanda.
Overall this movie I was most intrigued about for phase 4 of the MCU as I did wonder how they would continue the series following Chadwick’s sad passing and it is the moments which pay tribute to his fantastic performance that are definitely the best within the movie, with the opening and closing scenes paying tribute to the actor. Marvel also changed their title card for the movie to feature scenes of Chadwick which was definitely a fitting tribute to the star.
The acting is also great across the board, Angela Bassett brings a very regal presence and performance as Ramonda. I also liked Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia and Dominique Thorne is very funny as Riri Williams who is due to return as Ironheart in the Disney+ series next year so I’m looking forward to seeing more of her character.
Also Letitia Wright has a fantastic character arc as she processes her grief and feelings of uselessness and eventually has to stand up for her people, however when she does become the Black Panther at the end of the movie I have to admit it doesn’t have quite the same impact as Chadwick’s introduction in Captain America: Civil War did.
I also feel Lupita or Danai Gurira as Okoye could have been better alternatives to become the Black Panther as their presence is so much stronger in the action scenes than Letitia, although her emotional scenes are brilliantly acted and to be fair Letitia’s time as the actual Black Panther in the movie is quite short so perhaps another run in the part may help.
The action in the movie is also good with a fun chase sequence where Shuri, Riri and Okoye have to flee the FBI and the battle scenes are epic.
I did find one plot point a but strange which is Martin Freeman’s character who is used very poorly in the movie and when Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ character finds out he is in contact with Wakanda you do think he must be one of the worst CIA agents out there as she basically bugs a device he has used without noticing for the entire movie up until that point.
Marvel has also faced a lot of criticism recently about going so-called “woke” and the MCU being called the M-She-U. There are a lot of female characters in this movie with only three main male characters that I could see. Also there are a few jokes about Americans being “colonizers” and Riri makes a comment about being “young, gifted and black” which really doesn’t need to be there as the film is great without it and it did feel a bit like it was cheap laughs in a movie that really didn’t need them.
Overall I did enjoy the movie and would recommend it, although some improvements would have made it even better for me.