Wakanda forever, 3.5 readers. Wakanda forever indeed.
BQB here with a review of Marvel’s latest. SPOILER WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW!
With the tragic, untimely passing of Chadwick Boseman at the much too early age of 43, Disney/Marvel had some giant shoes to fill when deciding to carry on with the popular Black Panther franchise. They could have recast the role, rebooted the movie, gone the prequel route focusing on past panthers or what have you.
Would any of that have satisfied fans? Most likely not. Thankfully, writers/producers/director etc. stayed faithful to the original film by handing down the Black Panther claws not to a new cast addition but to the most likely heir, Princess Shuri (Letitia Wright.)
When King T’Challa passes, the royal family of Wakanda is devastated. Meanwhile, around the world, a vibranium arms race ensues, as various nations test Wakanda’s limits, believing that the loss of the Black Panther leaves the country vulnerable, and that plunder of the raw material that can lead to deadly technological devices and weapons is possible. To their dismay, Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), now Wakanda’s ruler in the wake of her son’s loss, turns out to be an effective leader, able to foil many a plot to heist the precious metal.
As it turns out, there was another nation built on vibranium all along. Superpowered merman Prince Namor (Tenoch Huerta) leads an underwater dwelling civilization of ancient mer-people who were happy to remain hidden underwater for centuries until the world’s lust for vibranium leads to the construction of a vibranium detecting machine that leads U.S. operatives to search for it in the ocean.
Fearing his nation will be wiped out if he does not wipe out the world first, Prince Namor vows to strike first, and has the ability to reduce all nations of the world to rubble and ash. He urges Wakanda to join him as an ally, but warns they’ll be the first to destroyed if they decline. As you can imagine, from there, the war is on.
MIT student scientist RiRi Williams (Dominque Thorne) joins the cast as a female Iron Man (Iron Woman?), Julia Louis Dreyfus, heretofore only seen on Disney Plus shows as CIA Director de Fontaine (more or less the new Nick Fury) is front and center while Martin Freeman reprises his role as Everett Ross, the Wakandans’ CIA BFF who feeds them intel.
First movie faves such as General Okoye, M’Baku and Nakia (Danai Gurira, Winston Duke and Lupita Nyongo) all return.
STATUS: Shelf-worthy. It is very much a Shuri-centric movie and it is her challenge to figure out how to pick up her brother’s mantle and defend Wakanda, not in his way but in her way, coming into her own. At three hours long, the film is a time commitment though to its credit, it didn’t feel like it. Coming up on 3 weeks in theaters now, it still remains strong.
Truly, Chadwick Boseman’s passing was a blow to many, not just to his fans, but obviously to the family and friends who loved and knew him best. There were many directions Marvel/Disney could have taken, even just letting the franchise go, but it was too popular and they found a way to keep it going while remaining respectful to and honoring Boseman’s legacy.