Attending the premiere for The Black Panther was one the most exciting moments of my life as an artist and film critic. Watching chocolate journalists dressed in African threads gearing up to witness Marvel’s Black Superhero was truly magical.
So, when news broke last year of Chadwick Boseman’s death, the globe, industry and his family grieved the loss of a life, brother, son, friend, a mentor and icon. Questions and conversations ran rampant around how the long awaited sequel. Would they recast? Would the story focus on other central characters or would the sequel be indefinitely postponed?
Well, baby when Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was released the emotional tone was set from the outset with the Marvel scroll racing across the screen in silence with nothing more than images of Boseman as T’Challa. Tears flowed from my body like a river at the start and continued for most of the film.
What Ryan Coogler and Marvel managed to accomplish was honoring the Marvel franchise while paying a loving and fitting tribute to a man and MCU icon that will live long past any of us. Most importantly, in a year where women’s rights are being challenged and slowly stripped away globally, Coogler placed the women of Wakanda front and center in all their beauty, brains and glory making this chapter of Black Panther memorable and worth the watch.
Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), Shuri (Letitia Wright), M’Baku (Winston Duke), Okoye (Danai Gurira) and the Dora Milaje fight to protect their nation from intervening world powers in the wake of King T’Challa’s death. As the Wakandans strive to embrace their next chapter, they band together with Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) and Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) to forge a new path for their beloved kingdom.
Newcomer Dominique Thorne as Riri is hysterical, while adding to the already brilliant tribe of Wakandan women who are simply badass and outsmarting their male counterparts at every turn.
Perhaps a new development was taking the film underwater introducing a new undersea nation Talokan led by Namor (Tenoch Huerta) bringing brown folks into the franchise and forcing audiences to embrace a whole new culture. Talokan is beautifully breathtaking and provided actors the challenge of learning to swim and speak underwater. Kudos on ALL of that!
The performances are fire, but the person who will sear your frontal cortex is Angela Bassett. Bassett brings her unique prowess to every role she inhabits, but there is something a little more powerful and special about her as Queen Ramonda. She is in control with a cinematic elegance that can’t be taught or directed – it’s in her DNA. This performance should pave the way for her to finally hit that Academy Awards red carpet once again as a nominee and hopefully triumphant in the manner that eluded her with her previous nom for playing Tina Turner in “What’s Love Got To Do With It.”
Oscar winners Ruth E. Carter and Hannah Beachler have outdone themselves with costume and production design even more spectacular and stunning than the first time around.
Rihanna’s end credit song “Lift Me Up” fully sums up this journey to Wakanda once again leaving all of with our arms crossed over hearts proclaiming WAKANDA FOREVER!