The end of the first phase of the Multiverse Saga is wrapping up. With the exception of the Guardians of the Galaxy Christmas Special, Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is at an end. We can finally breathe a sigh of relief now that we’re done with the constant deluge of MCU content. At least, until Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania comes out in February of next year.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was given an almost impossible task. The film had to cap Phase 4 with some type of meaning to it, propel the MCU into Phase 5 and Phase 6, and respect the legacy that Chadwick Boseman left behind when he passed away in 2020.
And for the most part, I believe that the film did all of those things. Well, okay, two of those things they did well and the other one was just okay.
If you’re not familiar with the Black Panther character, then I suggest you go watch Black Panther (2018) before continuing on with this review. Because from here on out, I’m going to act like we all know about the past films that the character was in.
Does the film respect the legacy of Chadwick Boseman?
In short, yes. The film starts immediately at T’Challa’s death. Shuri (played by Letitia Wright) is frantically trying to find a cure for her brother’s illness but fails. The funeral scene is especially sad for Black Panther fans because it not only marks the passing of the character, but of Boseman as well. I was half expecting the film to try to incorporate past footage or audio to recreate a scene with Boseman in it, but I was happy to see that director Ryan Coogler didn’t go that route. The rest of the movie carries the weight of T’Challa’s death, and you can see that in the performances of the main characters. Returning actors Angela Bassett (playing T’Challa’s mother, Queen Ramonda), Lupita Nyong’o (playing T’Challa’s partner Nakia), and Danai Gurira (playing General Okoye) give emotional performances and you have to imagine that Boseman’s death fueled some, if not all, of those scenes.
Does the film finish Phase 4 with some type of meaning to it?
There’s a lot of people that say that Phase 4 of the MCU isn’t as cohesive as Phases 1-3. When you add the chaotic nature of shows like Loki and She-Hulk, you have to wonder what the point of Phase 4 is. It didn’t come to me until about three quarters of the way through the film. I had the thought: They haven’t talked about the Blip or the five years when half the population was gone. And I totally understand that because there’s so much in this film already that trying to cram in stuff like would bloat the film past the three-hour mark. However, Phase 4 serves as the bridge between the Infinity Saga (Phases 1-3) and the Multiverse Saga (Phases 4-6). As such, Phase 4 has to deal with the consequences of the first three phases. In Black Widow (2021) and the Hawkeye show, we see the grief that Nat’s death has on Hawkeye and Yelena. In Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021), we see Peter suffering over the loss of his secret identity and those he loves. In Thor: Love and Thunder (2022), Thor grieves and gets past the loss of just about everyone he loves. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever follows that trend.
Does the film propel the MCU into the next two phases?
Yes and no. I think this is where the film could’ve been better. The film is 2 hours and 41 minutes long. I think it would’ve been better suited if the Riri character was cut out entirely. In the film, Riri is a college engineer that designs a machine that is able to detect vibranium, a metal that is unique only to Wakanda. At least it was until it was discovered by Americans under an ocean. This provokes an underwater nation led by Namor (played by Tenoch Huerta) to rise up with the intention of silencing those that know about the nation’s existence.
This causes Wakanda and Namor’s kingdom to clash.
Phase 4 could honestly be called MCU: Passing of the Torch. All of the six main Avengers now have replacements. Some of them might be Family Tree versions of the originals, but we’re not going to go there in this review. Shuri is the obvious choice to replace her brother T’Challa, and the film sets up some interesting possibilities for the future of the Black Panther legacy.
Overall, I thought the action was good, the acting was even better, and the way they handled the death of T’Challa was great. I think the movie could have been edited where Ironheart was removed from the film since it served very little purpose other than as a plot device that could’ve been handled differently. The character of Namor was great except for one part where I almost shouted “What?!” at the screen because I just didn’t believe Namor would do that.
If you’re a fan of the Black Panther character, then you’ll most likely like this film. I don’t think it’s a necessary must see in theaters film, but it didn’t disappoint in terms of entertainment.
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