11 Nov 2022

Sam's Take - Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

3:53 pm on 11 November 2022

By Sam Rillstone

The film does an amazing job of further expanding the universe with the introduction of Talokan, the representation of Atlantis in the MCU, Sam says.

The film does an amazing job of further expanding the universe with the introduction of Talokan, the representation of Atlantis in the MCU, Sam says. Photo: RNZ

This week Sam is breaking down another comic book film, Marvel Studios Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, directed by Ryan Coogler.

In the film, we see the nation of Wakanda coming to terms with the aftermath of the sudden death of King T'Challa. His sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) and mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett) deal with threats from outside their powerful nation, both on the surface and from the seas with the arrival of Namor the Sub-Mariner (Tenoch Huerta).

The film is profoundly sad in moments, as many will expect after the death of Chadwick Boseman in 2020. The impact of silence is used to great effect in many scenes revolving around the absence of T'Challa and the world is certainly missing a great presence without Boseman.

Watch the full Sam's Take here:

Taking up the lead role is Letitia Wright as Shuri who's performance is powerful. Her journey across the film as she tries to find out who she is and distinguish herself to others is heartbreaking and well written. The intense reverence for her brother, for Chadwick's character of King T'Challa is handled delicately and with grace.

The plot point of his death doesn't overpower the advancement of the story of Shuri, Wakanda or the Black Panther. But as many of the cast have said, both the spirits of Chadwick Boseman and T'Challa are throughout the film.

It didn't feel like Wright carried the film as best she could, so it'll be interesting to see how the character moves forward and how she evolves as an actress.

Angela Bassett as Queen Ramonda continues her gravitas from the previous film and amplifies it. She commands every scene she's in (it's Angela Basset after all). She pushes the story in a compelling way that doesn't just make her the mourning mother, it gives her agency.

Tenoch Huerta's Namor is sinister, conniving and callous. Huerta does amazing work showing Namor's volatility, highlighting the unpredictability from the comics as well as his strategist mind. He has so much presence and his fight sequences were a spectacle to watch.

To be honest he stole the show for me, and I cannot wait to see more.

Tenoch Huerta as Namor in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

Tenoch Huerta as Namor in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Photo: Marvel Studios

Namor debuted in Marvel comics in 1939, the first mutant and a long time influence on the Marvel universe. The ruler of Atlantis, he's done some pretty horrific stuff, like agreeing to help the surface world only if Sue Storm from the F4 becomes his lover or creating a cabal of villains to destroy all of the other universes in the multiverse, but you know in the name of saving his own.

Namor is part of the legacy of Marvel in a big way and it's so exciting that we finally have him as a big player in the MCU.

Dominique Thorne as Riri Williams/Ironheart has a lot of charisma, and it was a great taste of hopefully what's to come with her own Disney+ series on the way, with her intro scene also paying homage to when Tony Stark met Peter Parker in Spider-man: Homecoming.

Ironheart debuted in the comics in 2016 and is a student at MIT who creates her own Iron Man-like suit to fight crime. She hasn't got a huge history just yet but is definitely a wonderful and fairly beloved character. Particularly in the realm of representation.

The film does an amazing job of further expanding the universe with the introduction of Talokan, the representation of Atlantis in the MCU.

I really liked the designs of the Talocan people and seeing new tech was fun but I would've liked to have seen more other than just the one grenade device they commonly use. But again, a great addition that opens up so many possibilities for stories. And hooray for representation of Meso-American culture.

The music by Ludwig Göransson soars from the already lofty heights of the first film, with such memorable themes and riffs for certain characters and places.

Ruth E Carter returns for another round of immaculate costuming. Her designs for Wakandan fashion are all on point to somehow create motifs and trends to make it look like it only exists within this culture.

It feels like Wakanda have their own designers and artists, just adding to the immersion of the fictional country.

The story does well to balance honouring the legacy of T'Challa, the introductions of Namor and Riri, expanding the theme of colonisation from the first film and teasing the future of the MCU as a whole.

I really enjoyed the complexity of the villain Namor, he's not just a loose cannon. You can see his point, and it was fun to see his unwavering point of view seeping into the minds of other characters.

The film is a lot to soak in, and definitely feels its length at two hours 40 minutes, but it's cohesive.

Some good characters get sidelined, but I'll take that over plot holes any day. It's certainly a great addition to the MCU lore, and hopefully sets up some new and exciting threads for story and characters alike.

A scene from Wakanda Forever

(L-R): Dorothy Steel as Merchant Tribe Elder, Florence Kasumba as Ayo, Angela Bassett as Ramonda, Danai Gurira as Okoye in Marvel Studios' Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2022 MARVEL. Photo: Marvel Studios


Mid credits, it's revealed that T'Challa and Lupita Nyong' o's Nakia have a son, also named T'Challa. Now in the comics T'Challa actually has a son with X-Man Storm named Azuri, who also becomes Black Panther.

Obviously given the previous rights agreements with the X-Men that couldn't happen here but it does lean to suggest that the younger T'Challa could or will become Black Panther going forward or perhaps a member of the young Avengers team that is seemingly building.

It will be interesting to see whether Shuri is sidelined for this new character but as always only time will tell.

Just before this we see Winston Duke's M'Baku challenge the throne of Wakanda once more, as Shuri is absent for her coronation. What this means going forward is unclear.

Obviously with the traditions of Wakanda he would seemingly go unopposed. But given Shuri's less than savoury feelings on tradition who knows if that would stand. Maybe she's in on it?

As always there is also the inclusion of some interesting Marvel characters and references.

Danai Gurira's Okoye and Michaela Coel's Aneka become Midnight Angels, the name of a subgroup of Dora Milaje who debuted in a 2010 comic called Doom War, which saw infamous Marvel villain Dr Doom trying to steal vibranium from Wakanda.

We have Mabel Cadena as Namora who debuted in 1947 and is the cousin of Namor. She has very similar powers to him though lacks the ability to survive on land for extended periods of time.

We also have Alex Livinalli as Attuma, a villainous character who debuted in 1964. He is normally an enemy of Namor from a tribe of banished Atlanteans and believes himself to be the prophesied conqueror of Atlantis.