Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a moving tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman and maintains a mostly somber tone which is refreshing for an MCU film. The problem is it’s just plain boring with a story that lacks any urgency, a bunch of supporting characters but no engaging lead and a runtime just under 3 hours so it’s not one of the better Marvel films.
Plot: Queen Ramonda, Shuri, M’Baku, Okoye 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, the heroes must band together with Nakia and Everett Ross to forge a new path for their beloved kingdom.
Review: I think I have MCU fatigue which is why I never bothered seeing Wakanda Forever in theatres so I waited until it hit Disney+; I’ve heard mixed reviews for it with comic fans complaining that it ruins Namor totally changing his origin but as I’m not a comic book guy then I don’t really care and am just judging this as a movie in its own right.
The trailers for Wakanda Forever made it look like a somber affair and that is very much the case with some moving tributes to the late Chadwick Boseman who sadly passed away a couple of years ago. It’s a tough situation and no matter what director Ryan Coogler did with this movie it would have disappointed fans in one way or another. Many suggested they recast T’Challa rather than kill the character off and once again no matter what they did people would have complained.
What we get is a movie without a lead so it feels like a bunch of supporting characters and we spend the movie waiting and hoping for someone interesting to show up. Shuri (Letitia Wright) is fine but she feels like a side character and just doesn’t have the presence as the new Black Panther. This makes the incredibly bloated runtime of 2 hours and 40 minutes really drag and I think this is one of the most boring movies of the MCU. I actually turned it off last night but decided I wanted to finish it to see what happened and forced myself to sit through it. Wakanda Forever barely has any action and too much takes place in darkly lit spaces where we can hardly see what’s happening.
The story also lacks urgency so we never really feel like the world is in any great danger and I felt Namor was defeated too easily.
There are certainly some beautiful moments with my favourite being the siren song of Namor’s people when they attack the ship at the beginning which is the best scene of the film. It is also arguably the most heartfelt film of the entire MCU keeping the stupid quips to a minimum and the tone mostly serious. It’s a study of grief but also how revenge is never the answer as it only makes matters worse. The final battle at sea (even if it is mostly CG) is decent but hardly top tier action cinema so there is little that will stick with you in that respect.
The performances are mostly impressive with Tenoch Huerta doing his best with Namor but I didn’t like or hate him; he was just bland which is a shame as he is one of the most important characters in the Marvel universe. Angela Bassett gives a gut wrenching performance as Queen Ramonda who is stricken with grief but trying to maintain Wakanda’s place as a world power; she is never bad in anything and is the most interesting character in the film.
The music score maintains the themes from the original movie and is rousing when it needs to be but mostly low key and not something I would listen to outside of the movie.
Overall, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a bit of a slog to get through with a ridiculously overlong run time and little in the way of decent action scenes so it’s not something I’d sit through again. Despite its flaws it is still a moving tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman and his presence is missed throughout; you’ll be hard pushed not to shed a tear at some point.