BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER. Chaotic installment of MCU
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever faced an extremely difficult task. It is not only a continuation of one of the best films of the Marvel universe, but also the only one nominated for an Oscar in the main category. It also closes, in cinematic terms, the fourth phase of MCU. Finally – but most importantly – it deals with the death of the original’s lead actor, Chadwick Boseman, who died in 2020 after losing his battle with cancer. Expectations for the production were therefore high, and multifaceted. So did Ryan Coogler and his team of collaborators manage to meet them?
Before I answer this question, I will briefly introduce the story the film tells. The main part of it takes place a year after the sudden death of the king and shows us Wakanda’s political struggle with the outside world. In the midst of the conflict between the African superpower and the other nations appears Namor, the ruler of an underwater land that, like Wakanda, turns out to be rich in valuable vibranium. Faced with Namor’s aggressive actions, our heroes must decide whether to join him or stand up for the underwater world….
Unfortunately, it quickly becomes apparent that the prepared film simply suffers from the lack of a main character, making it hard to get away from the impression that the character of T’Challa was simply cut from the script, and the script was quickly rewritten so as to weave in the motif of the death of the king on the one hand, and find a new protagonist on the other. The latter doesn’t succeed until the last act, which finally focuses on another person taking the mantle of Black Panther.
Before that, however, the film is very chaotic, jumping from one character to another and from one plot to another, with a structure that resembles more a lengthy episode of a TV series than a feature-length production. Namor, Shuri, Queen Ramonda, Okoye. Each of these characters valiantly tries to steal screen time for themselves. So does Agent Ross, who returns in the sequel, but in this case I don’t think even Martin Freeman, who plays him, knows what he’s in the film for. There’s also a surprisingly large amount of Iron Man’s successor, Riri Williams, introduced into the universe, and the teenage girl’s storyline surprisingly proves pivotal in wrapping up the plot. It’s just a shame that Riri is completely out of step with the world of Wakanda and the atmosphere of the production.
The film performs best when it simply allows us to forget about the poor script. In terms of execution this is a really efficient production, and by Marvel Studios’ standards even very good. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever enchants with successful camera work, interesting visual ideas, bold narrative solutions and – perhaps most of all – great music. Original songs prepared especially for Coogler’s film make the whole thing shine and manage to delight for a while.
Despite a few concerns in this matter, I can say that Chadwick Boseman’s farewell was a classy one, and the scenes that focus on mourning the late King T’Challa are truly gripping. So is the smug critique of the history of colonization of the so-called new lands. It’s a shame that more screen time wasn’t devoted to these themes in both cases.
All in all, Marvel Studios’ latest production is unfortunately not one of the successful ones. The chaos and the lack of an idea to take care of the world of Wakanda after the death of its king can be seen here, although I would like to emphasize with full force that I am very grateful to Ryan Coogler and Marvel’s management for not deciding to re-cast the character played by the irreplaceable Chadwick Boseman.
Still, Wakanda is in my heart, and I believe that the next visit to this corner of Marvel’s universe will already be successful, because it will not be burdened with such inhuman realization problems.