“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is the final film in Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the sequel to the 2018 runaway smash hit. As a sequel to one of the franchise’s most acclaimed standalone films, and a tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman (who succumbed to cancer in 2020 at age 43), it marks a worthy successor and one of the franchise’s best standalone films to date.
The story takes place one year after the passing of King T’Challa. As the nation of Wakanda tries to forge a path forward and find a new heir to take up the mantle of Black Panther, a mysterious being known as Namor the Submariner (Tenoch Huerta, “Narcos”) emerges from the lost city of Atlantis to challenge the rule of the Earth’s surface. The story unfolds in a mammoth 161-minute epic that not only lives up to the hype, but provides a spectacular and touching template for future installments.
Though following up a film as beloved and successful as the first “Black Panther” was never going to be an easy task, it became one that got even more challenging with the novel coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, along with the untimely death of Chadwick Boseman. Director Ryan Coogler, who has experience with both personal films such as “Fruitvale Station” and the spectacle of blockbuster filmmaking from his work on the previous film and the first “Creed” film in 2015; pays tribute to his late collaborator and friend while also making a thrilling globetrotting adventure.
The film marks the 30th main installment in the franchise, and shows just how far Marvel Studios has come since the release of the first “Iron Man.” On top of Namor being connected to the much-anticipated entry of the X-Men to the MCU, new characters such as Iron Heart (Dominque Thorne) are a standout. You see every bit of the film’s $250 million budget on the screen, from an opening fight on an offshore drilling rig to Namor’s kingdom in Atlantis to the moment when the new Black Panther is finally crowned to enter the battle.
With a new record box office opening for Veteran’s Day weekend, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” marks a fitting finale to Phase Four of the MCU, a worthy sequel to 2018’s “Black Panther,” and especially as a tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman. It’s an easy recommendation to end this phase of the franchise and as a template for what lies ahead.
Directed by Ryan Coogler (Based on the graphic novel series by Marvel Comics)
Starring: Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Florence Kasumba, Michaela Coel and Martin Freeman with Tenoch Huerta and Dominque Thorne