Remaining number one in the box office for four consecutive weekends, viewers hail "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" as a cathartic tribute, richly established in culture and action.
photo by @blackpanther
Four years after the release of the original movie ‘Black Panther,’ Marvel studios introduced “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever'' to theaters on Nov. 11, 2022. Following the abrupt passing of the original Black Panther Chadwick Boseman in Aug. 2020, the long anticipated sequel came after much uncertainty about the future of the franchise. As the movie ran for two hours, forty-one minutes, enthusiasts of the Marvel Cinematic Universe were left on the edge of their seats at the numerous intense plot twists and battle scenes.
Early in the film, the character Namor is introduced. Played by actor Tenoch Huerta, the half-merman leader of the underwater society Talokan comes into conflict with the Wakandans as they battle for the life of a scientist responsible for discovering vibranium beneath the ocean. Much of the movie is based around the Yucatan Peninsula. During one scene, actress Lupita Nyong’o converses in Spanish with a native Mayan woman, leaving many Hispanic Marvel fans touched by a newfound sense of representation.
“I thought it was cool to see another group of people in Marvel and their backstory,” said senior Jocie Lemons. “I like that even though they had been living underwater for a while, they still wore similar traditional clothes and jewelry from where they used to live.”
As Chadwick Boseman was beloved by many, Marvel fans entered the theaters expecting a looming shadow of grief to linger throughout the movie. Evidently, the movie’s main focus was King T’Challa’s sister Princess Shuri. Yet through the tributes to Boseman in the introduction and post-credit scenes and Shuri’s numerous flashbacks to her time spent with her brother, the tributary nature of the movie allowed viewers a sense of peace over the loss of their original beloved hero.
“I was expecting not to like the movie because Chadwick Boseman wasn’t in it, but I ended up enjoying it for the most part,” said Lemons. “The characters in the movie mourned his death, and it was meaningful to feel that sadness alongside them.”
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” boasts a predominantly female cast. When attempting to feature women at the forefront of movies, Marvel has previously received criticism for the portrayal of many toxically feminist characters. However, the actresses playing the roles of Shuri, Nakia, Queen Ramonda and Okoye were praised for their ability to lead without simulating the role of men but instead embraced all qualities inherently feminine.
“There was no focus on women breaking the stereotypical ‘woman’s role in society’ in the movie,” said Lemons. “Rather, it was empowering to see women being leaders as more normal.”
The post-credit scene shocked viewers by revealing the late King T’Challa’s only son. However, T’Challa Jr’s introduction to the Marvel Cinematic Universe left many viewers with mixed emotions. Some were unsure whether he would live up to previous movies. Others were excited to see where the franchise is heading.
“Seeing his son at the end made it a little more exciting to see what they will do with that in the future,” said junior Emma Johnson. “I wasn't a huge fan of it personally because the first ‘Black Panther' was so good, and this one did not meet that expectation.”