Kaunda Selisho

By Kaunda Selisho

Journalist


‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ carries the story forward in an emotional, fitting way

In 'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,' we follow the women of Wakanda on a journey of love, loss and legacy as they chart a way forward.


Early reviews of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever have all pegged the film as one of the most emotional entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since “the snap” and the aftermath thereof and having seen the film at the South African premiere this week, I’m inclined to agree. 

Billed as a tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman, the actor who brilliantly held the mantle of the Black Panther, the film captures the very real grief of the cast and its director, Ryan Coogler. In fact, it was Coogler who conceptualised an entirely different way forward for the Wakandans before finding out about his late friend’s illness.

Riri Williams

Dominique Thorne
Dominique Thorne as Riri Williams in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. © 2022 MARVEL.

Taking inspiration from a few different Marvel comics, not only does Black Panther: Wakanda Forever see Shuri – T’Challa’s sister – take over as the Black Panther, the film also introduces Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne), the character set to follow in the footsteps of the late Tony Stark aka Iron Man. 

In the comics, Riri Williams was born shortly after the death of her father, Riri Williams Senior.

She grew up in the South Shore neighbourhood of Chicago, Illinois, living with her sister Sharon, their mother, Ronnie, and their stepfather.

According to the character’s Fan Wiki page, when Riri was five years old, behavioural problems led her parents to consult a child psychologist, who certified Riri as a super genius after undergoing several tests. 

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At the psychologist’s recommendation, Riri’s parents looked into special care to foster her abilities, while also giving her emotional support. The character got a scholarship to The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – a prestigious private land-grant research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Sadly, her family fell victim to gun violence and she was the only one who survived.

Her story is set to be told in more detail when Marvel releases its Ironheart series on the Disney+ app and her appearance in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever sets up her introduction to the MCU. 

Namor

Another new character introduced to the MCU from the comics is Namor, a character also known as the Sub-Mariner. 

The character debuted in Marvel Comics in early 1939, and is one of the oldest characters in the comic series. Some changes have been made to his origin story and appearance for the film.

While the film’s producers kept his status as a mutant as is, the Namor in the film (played by Tenoch Huerta) is no longer the son of a human sea captain and a princess of the mythical undersea kingdom of Atlantis. 

Tenoch Huerta
Tenoch Huerta Mejía as Namor in Marvel Studios’ BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER. Photo by Eli Adé. © 2022 MARVEL.

Instead, he became a mutant after an indigenous group of people were forced from their homes into the ocean after an invasion by intruders. There, they set up the nation of Talokan. A nation that draws inspiration from Aztec mythology and also bares some similarities to Wakanda.

The character also possesses super strength and aquatic abilities, as well as the mutant ability of flight, along with other superhuman powers. 

It is these powers that worry the new leaders of Wakanda in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever as they ponder whether or not to appease their enemy or get rid of him completely.

Angela Bassett
Angela Bassett as Ramonda in Marvel Studios’ BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER. Photo by Annette Brown. © 2022 MARVEL.

It is then that we follow the women of Wakanda on a journey of love, loss and legacy as they chart a way forward for their nation while facing their grief alongside the ever-present threat of Wakanda’s growing list of enemies. 

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This journey is punctuated with amusing and thought-provoking dialogue, some perfectly placed music from the film’s official soundtrack and all the easter eggs Marvel fans have come to love looking out for over the years. This all comes with a number of action scenes set across some spectacular backdrops. 

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever tops it all off with some stellar performances from Huerta as the anti-hero from Talokan, Letitia Wright as the grieving Shuri and Angela Basset as the new leader of Wakanda following the loss of her husband and son.

Post credit scenes

Marvel seems to be holding back when it comes to their post-credit scenes after an exciting tease at the end of the underwhelming The Eternals

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever only gets one mid-credits scene which leaves things wide open for the characters in this story but also tops things off for Shuri who spends the entire film dealing with the loss of her brother and her guilt from not being able to save him from his illness.

While there is no post-credit scene, there is a simple message; The Black Panther will return.

All in all, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever gets a solid 7 out of 10 and can be classified as one of the better entries in this new era for Marvel Studios. 

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hits South African cinemas on 11 November.

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