Black Panther: Wakanda Forever - Spoiler Review

The decision to hire Ryan Coogler was one of the best decisions that Marvel has made; Coogler is one of the most talented directors working. What I find so appealing about Coogler is his ability to work in the mainstream while also delivering a quality film that tells a thought provoking story. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a great follow up to Black Panther, and it is also a touching tribute to Chadwick Boseman. The MCU has done a fantastic job of making Wakanda to be the most powerful nation on earth, and introducing Talokan is another great addition to the MCU. Namor has always been more of a sideline figure in the Marvel universe, but he is powerful and very dangerous. I think Coogler did a great job of humanizing Namor, but also showing how mercurial he can be. Wakanda Forever is a success alone for good a job it did at introducing Namor, but there were some choices that held the film back. The issues I had with the film seem more to do with things dictated by Marvel than things related to Coogler. Coogler has proven himself to be a fantastic storyteller that Marvel should try to keep in the fold. 

The first Black Panther film was very emotional, and with the tragic loss of Boseman I knew Wakanda Forever would also put viewers through the ringer. I have long been frustrated by Marvel's decision to kill Killmonger since he is one the best villains in the MCU. The MCU has had an issue with villains, even though their rogue gallery is deep there has been issues with setting up interesting villains. The decision to kill Killmonger was not great, but there was no choice for Namor as he is not a true villain but more of an anti-hero. Namor funny enough is a very similar to Black Adam in that both characters have been both villains and heroes throughout their history. They are also both leaders who are protective over their dominion, and that is what makes Namor so compelling. The other part is the performance by Tenoch Huerta who imbued the character with so much life. The other major character introduced was Riri Williams (aka Ironheart) who is a successor to Tony Stark/Iron Man. Dominique Thorne was okay as Riri, but since I know so little of the character in the comics it is hard to judge the performance. I think Thorne brought some energy to the role, but it is hard to judge until we see her in more of a starring role. There was not a single weak performance in the entire film for me, and with such a big cast it is something I really appreciated. 


The film opens straight into Shuri (played again by Letitia Wright) working in her lab trying to use science to remake the heart-shaped herb to help save her brother (T'Challa) from an illness that is killing him. Shuri's mother (Ramonda played again by Angela Bassett) arrives to tell Shuri that T'Challa has succumbed to his illness. We see T'Challa's funeral where his casket is walked through the city where his people celebrate his life with song and dance. We skip forward a year and we see Ramonda address the United Nations where she accuses them of trying to take vibranium. As Ramonda is speaking, we see an attack by one of those nations on a Wakandan outreach centre, but the Dora Milaje are waiting and they subdue the invaders. Ramonda then has the Dora Milaje escort the French solider into the United Nations so France can be publicly shamed for their betrayal. We then out to the ocean where there is an operation that is searching for vibranium outside of Wakanda. The operation is using a vibranium detector to search and they found vibranium on the ocean floor. The ship is attacked by blue warriors that emerged from the ocean, and the ship is destroyed by the blue people. 

Ramonda takes Shuri into the wild so that they can burn the ceremonial robe as means of moving past T'Challa's death. Namor (played by Tenoch Huerta) emerges from the water with a warning that Wakanda is not the only place where vibranium is located. Namor tells them that if they don't kill the scientist who made the device his people will destroy Wakanda. Namor blames T'Challa for letting the world know about vibranium; so, he feels justified in asking Wakanda to solve the problem. Okoye (played again by Danai Gurira) will head to America to locate the scientist, and she wants to take Shuri with her but Ramonda thinks it is too dangerous. Shuri wants to go, and Okoye tells Ramonda that she will keep Shuri safe. When they get to America they locate Everett Ross (played again by Martin Freeman) who tells them who made the device. The duo head to MIT to locate Riri Williams (played by Dominique Thorne) who is a student there. Okoye and Shuri approach Riri and they eventually get her to go with them, and when they go to a warehouse to collects Riri's laptop the FBI shows up. The trio plan an escape where Riri will use the Iron Man-like suit she built, and Okoye and Shuri will use vehicles. 

They make their escape, but while on a bridge Riri is hit with a spear which tries to drag her into the water and Okoye and Suri are taken out by a water grenade. Okoye saves Riri, but the blue ocean warriors appear and Okoye has to fight them off alone as Riri and Shuri are still unconscious. Okoye fights valiantly, but she is sent falling into the water after another water grenade goes off. Okoye sees the ocean warriors taking Shuri and Riri with them back into the water. Okoye goes home to Ramonda who forces Okoye to step down as leader of the Dora Milaje because she failed to protect the princess. Everett Ross is sent to the crime scene on the bridge by the new director of the CIA to investigate what happened. Ross arrives to find the new director waiting for him, the new director is his ex-wife Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (played again by Julia Louis-Dreyfus). As they are inspecting the crime scene Ross finds Shuri's kimoyo beads which he pockets. Ramonda learns that Ross has the beads and she contacts him to let him know that Wakanda was not the ones who attacked the police. Ramonda goes to Haiti to see Nakia (played again by Lupita Nyong'o) who left Wakanda after the snap, and she did not come back for T'Challa's funeral because it would be too painful. Ramonda asks Nakia to use her skills to help find and save Shuri, and Nakia agrees to help. 

Riri awakes in a cave with Shuri by her side, they have a blue ocean warrior as a guard, but Shuri is taken away to meet with Namor. Nakia goes to a village in Mexico to investigate a local superstition that might be Namor. Namor greets Shuri stating he only wants peace between his nation Talokan and Wakanda. Namor gifts Shuri with a bracelet his mother wore which is made from fibers of a special plant. Namor tells Shuri that he is a mutant even amongst his own people due to the wings on his ankles (which allows him to fly), his ability to breathe on land and in water and his pointy ears. Namor's mother was a Mayan whose people became infected with smallpox brought from Europe until their God directed the shaman to a plant grown in the waters of a cave. The villagers drank the juice made from the plant, and when they awoke they could no breathe on land and their skin turned blue. Namor's mother was pregnant when she ingested the plant so he was born in the ocean, and he became King of his people. Namor returned to land to bury his mother, and what he discovered was terrible as he saw slavers abusing the locals; Namor from that point on had no love for the people on land. Namor takes Shuri to see Talokan where she is amazed at what he has accomplished, but she does not believe in killing Riri to protect Talokan and Wakanda. 

Nakia is able to pinpoint Shuri's location so she goes underwater and enters the cave where she rescues Riri and Shuri killing the two guards in the process. Namor rouses his people in preparation for a war against Wakanda while in Wakanda Ramonda is reunited with Shuri. Talokan attacks Wakanda and does sever damage that ends with Ramonda being killed after Namor throws a water grenade that causes her to drown. A ceremony is held to honor Ramonda, and M'Baku (played again by Winston Duke) agrees to let Wakanda to relocate to the Jabari mountains. Shuri goes back to her lab to continue to try and make the hear-shaped herb so that Wakanda could once again have the Black Panther as a protector. Ross finds Valentina in his home and she reveals she knew about the kimoyo beads and she charges Ross with treason. Shuri thinks the fibers of the bracelet Namor gave her is made from the same plant that gave Namor and his people their powers. Shuri is able to synthesize the heart-shaped herb and she takes it herself to see if it works hoping to speak to her mother in the ancestral plains. Shuri gets to the ancestral plain, but instead of her mother she finds Killmonger (played again by Michael B. Jordan). Killmonger angers Shuri and encourages her to seek revenge for the death of her mother. When Shuri returns she is stronger, but she refuses to tell Nakia who she spoke with. Shuri puts on the Black Panther suit and goes to meet the elders of Wakanda where she asks them to help her defeat Namor. 

Shuri has been developing a suit that will grant a normal human powers, she asks Okoye to use the suit, and Riri makes a new suit for herself. Wakanda launches a ship into the ocean that attracts Namor and his people to them. The fight starts, and the plan is to trap Namor in a ship where they will attempt to dry him out making him more vulnerable. The plan works, but Namor disables the ship causing it to crash into a beach. Namor and Shuri fight with Namor using a staff to impale Shuri, but she pulls free blows up the ship burning Namor. Namor is weak and needs help, but Shuri is about to kill Namor when she thinks of her mother who tells her to show Namor who she really is. Shuri asks Namor to yield saying Wakanda will protect Talokan going forward. Namor yields, and he then tells his people the fight is over. Wakanda needs a new leader, and when they were thinking it would be Shuri M'Baku appears asking if there is anyone that wants to challenge him. Ross is being transferred, but Okoye now using the suit attacks the van freeing Ross. Namor tells his people that while they lost Wakanda will need Talokan when the surface decides to turn against Wakanda. Shuri has left Wakanda to go to Haiti to see Nakia, where she finally burns the ceremonial robes as she thinks of her brother. The mid-credits scene involves Nakia revealing why left Wakanda after the snap. Nakia was pregnant with T'Challa's child and she wanted to keep their child away from the pressure of being the heir to the throne. The boy is named Toussaint, and he reveals to Shuri that his Wakandan name is T'Challa as the movie ends.


There was a lot of interest into how Marvel was going to handle the death of Chadwick Boseman, while I thought he opening of the film was clunky the movie honored Boseman in a touching way. The Marvel logo was just shots of Boseman, and the end of the film was less about setup and more about paying respect. In the first trailer for Wakanda Forever we see that there will indeed be another Black Panther it seemed painfully obvious that it was going to be Shuri taking on the mantle of Black Panther. I had hoped there might be a surprise in store for the reveal of who becomes Black Panther, but my three ideal choices were M'Baku, Okoye and Killmonger. I know Killmonger was dead, but I had hoped that maybe he wasn't actually dead; I did like that we got Killmonger in the film. I wonder if a trip to the ancestral plain is affected by mental state you are in when you enter it. I think Shuri was in a place of anger so she saw someone who she could connect with on that level. When T'Challa entered it in Black Panther he saw his father because that is who needed to see. Shuri wanted to see her brother or mother, but in that situation she actually needed to see Killmonger. It was a visually and emotionally impactful scene where Shuri spoke with Killmonger. I hope that we learn more about the ancestral plain as the comics had a very interesting and slightly different interpretation of it. Wakanda has played a significant role in four MCU films (Civil War, Black Panther, Infinity War and Wakanda Forever), but there is still a lot we do not know. Why did Shuri need to recreate the heart-shaped herb, did T'Challa lose the powers that the herb bestowed are just two of the many questions left unanswered.

One of my biggest issues with the film was the use of suits; more specifically the Midnight Angel suits that felt totally unnecessary to the film. The suits felt like a not from Marvel to introduce more suits, which I do not need. I think Okoye was better without the suit, and I think it would have made more sense if Riri had made the suits. I also thought the plan of attacking the Talokan's at sea was a mistake as they were stronger there and had more numbers. Those are small quibbles I have with the film, but they did affect my enjoyment which is what counts. There are so many things happening in the MCU right now that it is hard to keep track of everything, so unless the Midnight Angel suits will be apart of the Ironheart series or the Armor Wars movie I am not sure why they needed to be in Wakanda Forever. The new leader of Wakanda appears to be M'Baku which was a wise choice for Shuri to make as she is not in the right headspace to lead the nation. I am sure that Shuri will be a part of the leadership group of Wakanda, but she seemed to have little interest in being a leader. The movie showed Shuri struggling with her grief and guilt which led her down a dark path that she worked out of her system by beating up Namor. Ramonda was probably the third lead of the film, and Angela Bassett gave a very strong and raw performance as someone who is keeping a nation together while having her world fall apart around her. 

There was a major change to Namor in that in the MCU he is king of Talokan while in the comics he is king of Atlantis. I assume Marvel does not want to use Atlantis because of Aquaman which makes sense, other than that they have made only minor adjustments. I wish they would have found a way to use Namor's other name of the Sub-Mariner. The name Wakanda Forever used for Namor is Kukulkan which is a serpent deity. I am not sure why Marvel chose Kukulkan instead of Sub-Mariner, but it makes more sense given Namor's heritage. The idea that Talokan and Wakanda became so powerful because of vibranium is interesting, and it adds a layer to the relationship between them and the rest of the world. I enjoyed that despite all of their technological advancements that Wakanda was still arrogant enough to believe they were the only ones with vibranium. I also enjoyed how both Ramonda and M'Baku called out those in Wakanda who supported Killmonger despite knowing what he was going to do was wrong. The film does not put Wakanda on a pedestal, it celebrates the nation while also acknowledging that it is not as superior as we once thought. The loss of Boseman hurt, he was a great actor and his performance as T'Challa was something I really missed. I recently revisited Captain America: Civil War and I was impressed with Boseman's presence in the film. I thought T'Challa was a more interesting character in Civil War than he was in Black Panther. In the first Black Panther film T'Challa was overshadowed by Killmonger who was a more compelling character, but in Civil War it was T'Challa who got to be more compelling. Wakanda Forever paid tribute to Boseman in a very touching way, but it was not able to replace what Boseman brought to the franchise.

I really did enjoy Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, but I was left disappointed because I had such high expectations. I thought the film was going to be more emotionally impactful, but with the exception of the final two scenes it did not get me. The action in Wakanda Forever was very well choreographed, and the film looked great. Wakanda Forever is a well made film with great performances by everyone, but the film just did not hit me where I thought it would. I am going to give Wakanda Forever an 8/10 since I know it is an entertaining film that has a strong emotional core, but my expectations got the better of me. I also read a rumor that suggested that Namor might not be the villain of the film, but there is a different villain (a villain whose name starts with Dr.). My expectations for the film, and the hope that the rumor was true kind of hurt my enjoyment. For me this is middle to top of phase four projects so far, but it is not the best film of phase four. Wakanda Forever has continued the phase four trend of each film feeling stand alone, which is something I have not always liked but made the most sense here. I am really excited for where Marvel is headed, but I think I am missing the connectivity (and Cap, Tony and Natasha). Wakanda Forever is a very good movie, but my issues are not about the quality of the film but rather about me having unfair expectations. I encourage anyone who enjoyed the first Black Panther to see Wakanda Forever which is a film on par at worst with the original film. 

Thank you for reading my spoiler review of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, please share your feelings on the film. 

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