Monday, November 14, 2022

Movie Review - Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Went and saw Wakanda Forever yesterday with the family. Here's a spoiler free review. 

For the parents searching Google: Are there curse words in this movie? A few. Nothing too salty. No F-bombs that I remember. Fewer swears than in, say, Black Widow. 

Again with this movie, Marvel is allowing the director to go their own way with a film. Phase 4 has been full of various attempts to shake up the formula. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. This one is in some ways a cookie cutter super hero movie, but it does explore a consistent theme that makes the movie less of an exciting 2.5 hour roller coaster, and more of a thoughtful examination of the genre. Not too deep, mind you, but deeper than most MCU movies to date. 

Obviously, with the real world death of actor Chadwick Boseman, they had to make some pretty big changes in this movie, and I think that may have actually worked in the movie's favor. It's a tribute to a lost friend, and that allowed them to look into how the loss of T'Challa in-universe affects the various characters, and avoid the big messy CGI brouhaha at the end of most MCU films. 

So what is the movie about? Obviously, it's about loss, grief, and revenge. While Wakanda is trying to mourn T'Challa, a machine invented by Riri Williams allows people to search for vibranium underseas, and they accidentally discover Talokan, secret undersea home of Namor (which is, like Wakanda, a vibranium-based culture). The US blames Wakanda for the loss of the expedition. Namor blames Wakanda for exposing the world to vibranium. Three-way conflict ensues, but really, for the most part it's just Wakanda vs Talokan. 

While the plot is a fairly typical comic book conflict, and the resolution is a fairly typical comic book plot resolution, along the way we get to explore the pain suffered by the various characters. Queen Ramonda, Shuri, Okoye, and Nakia all have very different ways of dealing with their grief. Namor also has his demons that haunt him, and we get to explore those as well, although not as deeply as with the various Wakandan characters. And while Namorita and Attuma have speaking parts, they get no character development. Namor is the only Talokanian (?) to get an arc. 

There are some connections to upcoming projects from Marvel. Obviously Riri Williams is introduced, which will lead into her own Iron Heart show, and most likely the upcoming Armor Wars movie. And various goings on with CIA agent Everett Ross connect to the upcoming Thunderbolts. I was hoping there would be a tease for Ant-Man Quantumania in the post credits, but all we get is a bit of revelation for one character's motives in the film that were a bit unclear, plus some hints about future Black Panther projects. Which is fine, but part of the fun of the MCU has always for me been the interconnections, and the teases for the next project up on the roster. 

So, that's what the movie is like. How did I like it? I actually enjoyed it. It's not as exciting as a typical action movie, but I liked how it did try to explore character deeper than "I have daddy issues" or "I want to prove myself" like most MCU movies. And the grief leading to revenge theme just felt weightier than in previous MCU movies. I'd definitely say I enjoyed this more than Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness or Thor: Love and Thunder. But no, it didn't knock Weird: The Al Yankovic Story off my top spot for the year. 

Also, my wife was really unhappy with the movie. She wanted some big exciting action movie stuff, and didn't get it. She said it was boring. My older son also wasn't so impressed with it. My younger son can't sit through a movie these days anyway (he has no attention span, so we're trying to detox him from gaming/YouTube, but it takes time). My wife even said she's done going to see these movies in the theater. She'll wait until they come out on Disney+. 

So, a movie that's not for everyone. It doesn't follow the MCU cookie-cutter formula. I think that's its strength, my family thought that was a weakness. I think it's a good movie, better than the other MCU movies of 2022, but my family didn't. Your mileage may vary.


  1. Thanks for the review. I kind of prefer waiting for Disney+ myself, but blockbuster films (which many/most MCU films are) are certainly fun on the big screen.

    Namor...I thought that was supposed to be the savage submariner in the trailer ads I saw, but...*sigh* a minor character? Linked to BP/Wakanda? With vibranium? And well-coifed facial hair? Does the guy shave underwater?

    [my thought on aquatic folks...whether Namor or they should either have huge amounts of hair (like Jason Momoa) or be pretty much hairless, like the comic Namor]

    But I'm just a big whiny Marvel nerd, I suppose.

    I might wait for this one to hit the small screen. There was a LOT that I liked about the last Doc Strange and Thor films, but there was a lot of "miss" in there, too. They can't ALL be hits (hasn't the Star Wars franchise taught us that?) and I think I prefer the small screen serials (where stories can be developed over longer stretches) to Big Screen Extravaganzas.

    Though Shang-Chi was pretty awesome.
    ; )

    1. Namor is definitely not a minor character in the film. His actions drive the plot. It's just that the delving into his background and motivations is kinda glossed over. And they take a very different origin from the comics. I just wish they had spent a bit more time on it.