Let’s Get Reel: Black Panther, Wakanda Forever

Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther has probably been my favorite MCU character so far, acknowledging that Ryan Reynold’s Deadpool is not technically MCU yet.

So, losing Boseman was obviously a heavy thing. But still, the MCU must continue.

Wakanda Forever leans heavily into the loss of its titular character, and excels in doing so. The focus of the movie is with the characters dealing with that loss and in doing so, Wakanda Forever becomes the heaviest foray into the MCU to hit the big screen. WandaVision dealt heavily with loss as well, but this was the first theatrical release to go this deep into it.

And it was the right decision. This movie shines in that exploration–loss, ramifications, guilt, the morality of vengeance, right and wrong in ends justifying means. It’s all in there.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the movie centers largely around two of my favorite Marvel characters–Shuri and Namor. I’ve been a Namor fan since his run in the early Fantastic Four as the original Mr. Steal Your Girl, chasing after Sue Storm. So I was very excited to see him show up in the MCU and nervous on if they could pull it off. Namor has teetered between villain and anti-hero, and that can be a fine line to walk. Tenoch Huerta’s version of Namor pulls off the act. Even in his “villainy” his motivations can leave you going “he’s not wrong” as he plays the bad guy. It’s a more nuanced and serious version of “maybe Thanos was right”. I always enjoy exploring that moral ambiguity. It’s something that discussed quite a bit in The Chowderhead Crusades, which I reviewed earlier this year. The idea of comics as “scriptures”, or moral guides. As for Shuri, well, I named my car after her if that tells you anything.

I watched this movie with my wife, and she walked out of the theater in love with it as well. Wakanda Forever is easily the most female driven MCU movie yet. As mentioned above, there is a heavy focus on Shuri, Ramonda, Okoye and Nakia dealing with grief…and they also get to be badass often. As she said, “it makes a feminist’s heart happy.” Plus, there was a fun debut of a (fe)male with a lot of heart.

Black Panther got a 96 on Rotten Tomatoes. I try not to read reviews before I write my own, but I see Wakanda Forever is currently pulling an 84. The more I think about this movie, the more I think I might prefer the sequel. I’m hoping that is not just recency bias. The first was more kid/action friendly with nods to social awareness. It is admittedly more rewatchable. But this sequel is deeper and ultimately a better movie, if not necessarily a better superhero movie. The nods are to the superpowers, while the focus is on the people.

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