How does a filmmaker like Ryan Coogler and a franchise like Black Panther move forward from the devastating loss of it’s iconic star? The answer appears to be shakily.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will be released on November 11th, just two years after Chadwick Boseman’s untimely death and his absence is felt in every frame. The entire cast fights their hardest to make up for that loss, none more so than Letitia Wright as Shuri, his brilliant sister and heir-apparent. She punches her way through the script but seems to be carrying the weight of box-office expectations along with her sorrow. Writer/Director Ryan Coogler throws everything he can think of at the plot, which results in a 161 minute long film that often loses focus and spends too little time with Wakanda itself. He also introduces a new “threat” that never seems very threatening in terms of world-domination.
So no, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is not as good as Black Panther. How could it be? It’s an impossible ask of Ryan Coogler, who lost not only a seminal character but also a dear friend. How do you write a story that properly moves the Black Panther franchise forward while honoring Chadwick Boseman and regarding the grief of his cast-mates and friends? I guess you simply do the best you can and I respect Ryan Coogler and all involved for the enormous effort they’ve given.
See Black Panther: Wakanda Forever for the incredible tribute it pays to T’Challa and to Chadwick Boseman. See it for the always incredible Angela Bassett and Lupita Nyong’o, and to honor the grit and passion of Letitia Wright. Most importantly, see Black Panther: Wakanda Forever because, though imperfect, it is vastly necessary. The film, franchise and everyone involved has suffered an unimaginable loss. This is their first step forward on shaky but committed legs. They may never have another Chadwick Boseman or T’Challa, but Wakanda Forever is a step away from the pain and towards greatness again.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever opens November 11th and is rated PG-13 for sequences of strong violence, action and some language.