Black Panther 2: Wakanda Forvever


‘…Wakanda Forever may well have fans, but it’s hard to imagine anyone who could prefer this bloated, confusing film to the far more effective original….’

Despite the tragic death of star Chadwick Boseman that results in his repurposed-footage appearance here, Ryan Coogler’s sequel to his own 2018 smash hit for the Marvel Cinematic Universe did pretty good business for the pandemic era; a worldwide recoup of $759 million to date is not to be sniffed at, even if it’s around half what the first film made. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever would have been a cornerstone in the MCU’s Phase IV, but amongst a selection of not-quite-there ventures, nay-sayers will see this as evidence of a franchise that’s running on fumes. Wakanda Forever may well have fans, but it’s hard to imagine anyone who could prefer this bloated, confusing film to the far more effective original.

So we don’t even get a backwards glimpse of T’Challa, the titular Black Panther from the first film, until a sentimental ‘T’Challa-was-inside-us-all-along’ montage during the final scene. It’s explained that T’Challa died off-screen, and his sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) was involved in a failed effort to save her brother by developing a synthetic herb. T’Challa’s mom Ramonda (an imperious Angela Bassett) heads off to the UN to warn other countries not to steal the precious vibranium on which Wakanda is largely built, but the Wakandans have their own beef with Namor (Tenoch Huerta Mejía). He’s the pointy-eared leader of the Avatarian blue fish people who are annoyed that vibranium-seeking devices are being used on the earth’s surface. That puts the fish people on a collision course with Wakanda, and everyone else is caught up in the conflict…

Black Panther 2’s plot was clearly written with Boseman’s return in mind, and then the main character’s interactions were hived off to other characters; it’s a gambit that stymies the emotional range of the film which becomes rapidly bogged down in funereal mourning, po-faced diplomacy and agonising techno-babble. ‘So y’all gonna stop having Black Panthers just when I get kidnapped?’ is probably the funniest line in Wakanda Forever, but there’s not enough to lighten the gloom; the gag comes from outspoken science-boffin Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne) who seems to have been included just to set up yet another forthcoming MCU tv show, Ironheart. There’s all sorts of randos to jolly up the supporting cast including Lake Bell as a CIA agent, Martin Freeman as a CIA boss and Julia Louis-Dreyfus as his ex-wife; the casting promises comedy, but this sequel doesn’t have many laughs by design.

161 minutes is a long time to keep an audience entertained, but Wakanda Forever lives up to the promise of its title by taking forever to watch, not bringing the action with a subdued car chase and tedious sub-aquatic brawl which both suffer from advanced fakey-green-screen-itis. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is certainly respectful to the character of T’Challa and to Boseman’s memory, but although it’s released in the slot of last year’s Spiderman movie, it’s unlikely to inspire the same kind of fanboy love. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever aspires to be a more mature prospect that the previous MCU fodder, but Coogler’s political and aspirational pretentions aren’t quite borne out by a garbled narrative that’s both convoluted and muted in equal parts.


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  1. I almost wish I wanted to see these Marvel films. I used to love them. I even have an Iron Man Tshirt!

    But the thrill is gone completely for me. No thing against Wakanda in particular, they’re all in the same boat for me now.

    • Iron Man 3 feels like a long time ago. But these franchise movies being duffers at least leaves the door open for satisfying 90 minutes movies in the future, which should blow such bloated dribbling as away. What Lake Bell and Dreyfus think they are doing here is anyone’s guess…

        • But also that rush of setting up characters, telling an involving story, and sending you back out of the cinema weak at the knees and satisfied by the experience. I can’t imagine how many could feel that about BPWF. Making films is increasingly a lost art.

          • I’ve been thinking about how contradictory it is that as our attention spans supposedly get shorter, our screen stories are getting bloated. How is that possible? I finished binging Nine Perfect Strangers last night – it was good, I enjoyed it, but the truth is it was too long. That novel (also very good) doesn’t need 8 hours to tell it. It’s a decent show, but I kept thinking it could’ve been an incredible movie – just like you said, a weak-kneed experience. Drawing it out so long took the air out of the balloon.

            Kill your darlings!

            • To me, that was what you bought your ticket for. Something made by people smart enough to engage you emotionally and intellectually. Not something that sells you the idea of a good time next month, or next year. It’s easy to fake the start of a story, it’s very hard to bring all that strands together. Right now, studios should be looking at IP like novels, musical shows, theatre, things that work and satisfy; streaming seems to be the natural home of the unambitious franchise that seels to do nothing but sell itself. And like Nine Perfect, I can think of some streaming series that could easily be adapted as movies. But a movie gotta move, it has to move you, and most streaming just dances on the head of a pin of an old IP. Today’s talent are shirking the challenge of creating satisfying entertainment; it’s still the holy grail of cinema.

  2. I barely made it through the first film and if the Infinity War duology hadn’t required it, I probably would have skipped it. So if this isn’t even as good as the first one, well, it seems to fall in line exactly with every other Phase4 movie.

    Why won’t this franchise just die? This is bringing back memories of the bad old superhero days, when they were schlocky and not good at all. Like Elektra or Daredevil or the Punisher.

    • Black Panther was a giggle compared to this. At least the old schlocky films were over in 90 minutes and didn’t require you to sit with wiki in one hand to figure out what they were talking about. Any film aimed at families that over 160 minutes long has to be relatable, but the internal conflicts of Wakanda’s royalty and their policy/strategy discussions left me keen for some old fashioned direct action; wasn’t that what people liked about comics in the first place?

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