How do I describe Black Panther? I can express my feelings about the new Black Panther film, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” with a list of one-word descriptions: Fantastic. Emotional. Sad. Exciting. Surprising. Powerful.
I was able to see the film at a press screening earlier this week, and I tell you the more than 2-1/2 hour movie was just as good if not better than the first one.
And such a great tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman, who played the part of the Black Panther in the first film back in 2018.
The usual powerful girl band of warriors are all in great form, with a few additional surprises.
A new presence of an underwater community led by the Fishman and a spunky MIT student named RiRi.
In the wake of King T’Challa’s death, the Wakandans strive to protect their nation from intervening world powers.
Queen Ramonda, played by Angela Bassett, travels to Geneva to let the “world powers” know that she’s not letting them invade her country in order to get their valuable resource—vibranium.
Little do the Wakandans know that there is an underwater community in Mexico that the U.S. government had tried to invade because it had determined that community also has vibranium. Shuri, played by Letitia Wright, posits that a meteor in the past probably split and that accounts for vibranium being in Africa and Mexico.
Therein lies the struggle. The leader of the undersea community called Tlālōcān, the Fishman, or Namor, played by Tenoch Huerta, proposes that the two countries join forces to fight the colonizers, as they are trying to find the scientist who developed a robot that could manage the seawaters. The Wakandans travel to MIT and find that the scientist is a young student named RiRi, played by Dominique Thorne. She is not too keen on traveling to Wakanda, but she is persuaded after she learns that the FBI wants to detain her and eventually learns that Fishman wants to kill her.
There is the astonishing car chase in Massachusetts, and the splendid scenery of Wakanda and the undersea world. Everything is just breathtaking, and the film is filled with Black pride, thriving with life, just like the original film. “It’s like a love letter to the Black community,” said author Frederick Joseph, during an ABC TV special devoted to the impact of the “Black Panther.”
I love that the film has the Wakandans fighting Namor and his community and not one another. Bullets bounce off of the Black Panther, whom I won’t reveal, instead of through him—a social commentary, in my opinion, that speaks to Black-on-Black crime and police brutality.
Director Ryan Coogler has said about the first film: “The world was ready to take in Africa in a whole new way. It opened the door for “Crazy Rich Asians” and “The Woman King.”
There is a cast of international actors and the film is lush with afro futurism—the merging of science fiction with Black culture.
As concerns the late Chadwick Boseman, who played the Black Panther, and who died due to colon cancer in 2020, and his legacy, Coogler said: “He had these giant hands and that’s what I think about—his reach across history, pulling us up and pulling us backward and forward.”
The entire world has been waiting for this sequel. “Back in 2018, the sequel’s predecessor took Marvel’s cultural impact to a new level and earned over $1.3 billion worldwide. Black Panther became the fifth MCU movie to join the billion-dollar club,” according to Katie Chow at AV Club. She writes, as well, “Besides the box office, there’s a lot riding on ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.’ The film will reflect the 2020 death of star Chadwick Boseman.”
And it does so marvelously in heart wrenching tributes at the beginning and end of the film.
Pastor Olivia Johnson says, “This and other ways in which he was intentionally integrated throughout the movie to make movie-goers feel as if he was very much alive in the making of the sequel was brilliant. Every moment of this movie was captivating. The twists and turns were unparalleled and will leave you saying, ‘didn’t expect that.’ The ending was spectacular.”
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is visually stunning and takes you around the globe to further assert the Wakandans independence and also stars M’Baku (Winston Duke), Okoye (Danai Gurira) and the Dora Milaje (including Florence Kasumba); War Dog Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) and Everett Ross (Martin Freeman).
Grab a bit of Black pride and take a break from the madness. Go see “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” this weekend and remain for the entire credits. It’s playing in theaters everywhere.
Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., is the Entertainment Editor for the Chicago Crusader. She is a National Newspaper Publishers Association ‘Entertainment Writing’ award winner, contributor to “Rust Belt Chicago” and the author of “Old School Adventures from Englewood: South Side of Chicago.” For info, Old School Adventures from Englewood—South Side of Chicago (lulu.com) or email: [email protected].