Wakanda Forever

A Marvel Film Tackling Grief, Humanity


Iliana Tangarova

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is a Marvel film directed by Ryan Coogler released on Nov. 11. The movie did a phenomenal job adding in themes of grief and retribution, however it was definitely not perfect. With its complex subject and turbulent pacing, it was a bit difficult to watch all the way through. However, the characters, costumes and special effects were to die for. Overall, the movie was not perfect, but I would definitely watch again. (Movie stills courtesy of Marvel Studios)

Iliana V Tangarova, Reporter

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” tackles a difficult topic: how grief can change a person. After the death of Chadwick Boseman, the actor that played Black Panther in the first movie,  it was clear that Marvel had to entirely change gears. 

The film’s dealing with grief hits the audience almost immediately. It’s a clear tribute to Boseman, as the beginning credit scene that usually fills up with scenes from the Marvel movies was filled with pictures and videos of the late actor. 

The movie opens with the death of King T’Challa, and the women of the movie, Queen Ramonda, Princess Shuri, Nakia and Okoye, mourn the death of their king, son, brother and friend. 

It’s already pretty difficult not to tear up, however, the movie quickly dries up those tears and picks up on its conflict. One year later, after King T’Challa’s death, vibranium is located in the ocean, and as various parties try to steal it by force, they are attacked by blue water breathing people. 

The main conflict is between these water breathing people, their ruler, Namor, and the Wakandans. Namor wishes to create an alliance with Wakanda about the distribution of vibranium, but Wakanda refuses, and this creates the climax. Now, I won’t spoil the rest of the movie, so if you’d like to find out about the end, you can check out the rest of the movie. 

The definite main character of the film is Shuri, T’Challa’s little genius sister, and the film follows her journey through the several stages of grief filling in her brother’s shoes. We see her grow through each stage: denial, desperation, anger, depression/anxiety, confusion, re-evaluation and acceptance. Each of these emotions could be pinpointed through a scene in the movie, and this was something I enjoyed picking out.

In many ways, the movie felt incredibly relatable through the emotional lens. Many of us can relate to friends or relatives passing away and facing our grief after that. Having a massive film studio, like Marvel, create a movie tackling those difficult emotions felt incredibly validating, and that is something I greatly appreciated while reflecting on the movie.

“Wakanda Forever” is like many Marvel movies, it has great characters and story ideas, but too much plot and too many characters. Now, don’t get me wrong — I’m a Marvel fan through and through, but I can recognize the movies’ faults as well. This movie felt way too compact. In two hours and forty one minutes, all I remember is Shuri grieving her brother, and the ending, which I won’t spoil. All of those different fight scenes featuring the Wakandans, the political drama with Shuri and the Queen filling in T’Challa’s footsteps, and a whole bunch of other plotlines, I lost track. 

Another thing I did enjoy, however, was the fact that the feminist ideals of only women running Wakanda were not forced or spoon-fed into the mouths of the viewers. There are movies which force feminism, and they’re usually pretty difficult to enjoy because of that, but “Wakanda Forever” did a great job of incorporating that female inclusion in a proper, natural and well-fitted pace and storyline. There was a perfect steadiness of Shuri building on the success of her brother, the Queen filling in as leader, and the Dora Milaje (the all-female elite group of warriors) dealing with their own emotions. None of these plot points overshadowed or overtook the male characters, which created a perfect balance. 

What made the first Black Panther so special? When I thought of this question, my number one response was the fact that the authentic black voices, culture, and society used to create the movie molded it in such a way that it represented not only African-Americans, but also everyone else who watched the first movie. It created a deeper awareness of the race problem in the movie industry, and caused people to reflect on their own lives and biases, something which made the first movie, I believe, monumental. 

I believe that “Wakanda Forever” erased most of that authenticity, that voice. I understand that its focus was grief and the human condition, but with it being a sequel of such a transcendent first film, I was expecting a continued version of that authenticity. Of course, the gorgeous costumes, hair, makeup, and many different languages incorporated tried to represent that streak, but I believe it was overshadowed by adding an entirely different culture, Hispanic culture, into the mix.

To me, it feels as though Hispanic culture was just thrown into the movie, and this mashed together the true influence that having an only-black culture, like Black Panther one, or only-Hispanic cultured film could’ve done. I would love to see an all-hispanic Marvel movie featuring characters and mythologies from the Aztec or Mayan peoples, but I feel as if they threw away that chance by mixing the culture into the movie. Having another entirely separate culture be mixed in and made the enemy through Wakanda Forever gave me the wrong impression about what demographic the movie was trying to represent. 

Nevertheless, the movie is definitely impactful. I cannot say whether it was a bad or good movie, but there were parts that I definitely enjoyed and some which I didn’t really enjoy. 

Considering all of my thoughts about the movie, I rate it a 6/10.