Black Panther: Wakanda Forever review

“The sequel is never as good as the first”

After two long years, the sequel to Black Panther—Black Panther: Wakanda Forever—has finally premiered in theaters on Nov. 11. The release of Wakanda Forever thrilled many Bonita Vista High (BVH) students who follow along with the Marvel universe. Students at BVH had been wearing Black Panther merchandise, discussing the events that occurred in the movie and even listening to the soundtrack in their free time.

In 2020, Chadwick Boseman—the actor who played King T’Challa and the Black Panther in the first Black Panther movie—died of colon cancer. While many people were in shock and mourning his death, the second movie’s production had been delayed. The sudden death of Boseman had changed the course of the movie, such as how they would display the absence of the Black Panther everyone knew and loved. The producers of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever had taken it into their own hands to decide the major roles the second movie would have.

The opening scene in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever portrayed the death of King T’Challa. The movie began by showing T’Challa’s sister Shuri, played by Letitia Wright, desperately trying to find a way to save him. Using her technology, she attempted to replicate the Heart Shaped Herb, which was destroyed in the first movie, hoping to save T’Challa. However, in the end, because of Boseman’s death, King T’Challa had passed onto the afterlife. The King of Wakanda’s death created a catalyst for the events that occur in the sequel. With the death of T’Challa there is now an empty throne in which Romonda, T’Challa’s mother, played by Angela Bassett, takes back.

In the movie, vibranium “supposedly” could only be found in Wakanda. Because of this, many countries who were introduced to vibranium realized with the “delicate” state of Wakanda, they had a chance to steal the infamous metal and use it for their own purposes. This leads to the United States (U.S.) military finding vibranium in the Atlantic Ocean, with a machine created by an American “scientist”. Vibranium was found in the ocean due to a second vibranium meteorite hitting the earth which was explained in the first Black Panther movie. The U.S. military team goes down to retrieve it, but are attacked by blue underwater beings called the Talokanil, who were also in possession of vibranium. The Talokanil vowed to protect vibranium in the ocean so it would not appear in the wrong person’s hands.

Shuri stands in front of the black panther mask making the “Wakanda forever” symbol. (Sofia Murillo)

The Talokanil’s leader, Namor or Ku’ku’lkán, played by Tenoch Heurta, reached out to Wakanda so they could establish a partnership to protect vibranium and take over the surface world. Growing up, Namor explained he witnessed the conquistadors treating indigenous people like slaves. Since then, he belived the whole world takes what they want and uses whatever power they have to their advantage. When talking to Romonda and Shuri, he explained that he wanted the scientist who created the vibranium detecting machine and if they did not deliver, Wakanda would suffer. Romonda agreed to find the scientist and had sent Shuri and Okoye,Wakanda’s general, played by Danai Gurira, to receive the scientist. The scientist was revealed to be 15 year old Massachusetts Institution of Technology (MIT) student Riri Williams (Ironheart) – a major part of the Marvel Universe since Ironheart is taking the characteristics of Ironman – played by Dominique Thorne, who invented the detector for one of her class projects.

Shuri and Okoye try to bring Williams back to Wakanda, but the Talokalin take Shuri and Williams back to their underwater city while Okoye escapes back to Wakanda. Namor reveals to Shuri that the Talokalin became the creatures they were because of a blue herb that resembled the Heart Shaped Herb, allowing them to receive oxygen from the water and have a blue pigment in their skin. Namor’s mother and early generations first took the herb to escape from the abusive Spanish conquistadors.

During Shuri’s captivity, she learned of the Talokalin history while Namor showed her the city of Talocan. Namor explains to her that if she does not give him Williams, he will force the two nations to become a partnership. Shuri wants to save Williams, but does not want to become an ally to the Talocan. Shuri and Williams escape back to Wakanda to explain everything to the queen as Wakanda prepares for a looming attack.Namor is quicker and attacks right away causing floods, destruction and chaos on Wakanda. During this attack, Namor kills Queen Romanda. Because the city is destroyed, M’Baku,leader of the Jabari Tribe – one of the five tribes of Wakanda,, played by Winston Duke, creates a safe camp in the mountains for the survivors, including Shuri.

During this time, Shuri is furious about her mothers death and feels everyone she has loved the most are all dead. This leads her to go on a science experiment rampage, leading to replicating the Heart Shaped Herb. In Wakanda’s dire need of a protector, she decides to take the herb to become the new Black Panther. When she took the herb, she entered the ancestral state surprised by an unexpected visitor. This visitor is Killmoger (Shuri’s cousin), played by Micheal B. Jordan. He tells her that she needs to avenge her family and the only way to do that is through killing the person who killed her mother. Although Killmoner was T’challa’s enemy in the first movie, his words had consumed her with vengeance. Being the new “ruler”, she decides to make the first move.

She prepares for battle and takes a large ship of soldiers to the Atlantic Ocean, the home of Namor. She strikes first, causing a fight for their country. She gets Namor alone and finds a way to make him less powerful. When she finally has the chance to kill Namor she hears her mother in her head—-“Remember who you are”—giving Namor a chance to yield. This calls an end to their fight.

The reason why Shuri did not kill Namor was because she was fighting for the wrong reasons. She believed that she needed to avenge her family until she realized the right thing to do was create a way that wouldn’t bring more deaths. Allowing herself to see what had happened allowed her to reflect on what would happen. She lost herself and her values due to the anger and revenge that had consumed her and to realize it was not her fault led her to make the right decision. In the end, the two nations go their separate ways. In the end Shuri takes Williams back to MIT and hands over the throne to M’Baka, knowing he is a better fit to rule the country.

Wakanda Forever depicts different lessons that relate to the real world. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever shows the importance of self and woman empowerment. Making Shuri the lead supports the idea that a female protagonist does not impact their actions in the movie.

While the movie outlined significant lessons, there were many hard-to-follow plotlines. For example, from finding the scientist to saving Wakanda, there were multiple scenes that were not relevant. In the end, many people agree that sequels are never as good as the first movie.

Even as a sequel, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever got 84% rotten tomatoes. Additionally, the soundtrack by Ludwig Goransson has been viewed and replayed by many people who have watched the movie. The movie was nominated for Hollywood Music in Media Awards and Sunset Film Circle Awards just a few weeks after it was released. Students at BVH can feel the powerful emotion in the hardwork the actors and directors have put into the movie. Although it is a fictional movie, I can see and feel the powerful lessons that were sent through the screen.