‘Wakanda Forever’ Releases Following Boseman’s Death



Academy Award-Nominee Ryan Coogler returns to direct the sequel to ‘Black Panther’

Brandon Verna

On November 11, 2022, the highly anticipated sequel to the “Black Panther” film was released. “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is the final movie of Phase 4 of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe). Say goodbye to the relentless advertisements – the film has finally arrived!

On August 28, 2020, Chadwick Boseman, the star of the critically-acclaimed “Black Panther” movie, passed away from colon cancer. Following the tragic death of the Oscar-nominated actor, Marvel fans were skeptical about how his role in the Black Panther series would be accounted for. Leading up to the film’s release, many fans theorized how the Black Panther character would be represented, and many producers didn’t want to replace Chadwick’s portrayal of Black Panther, out of respect. However, director Ryan Coogler, who directed both the original “Black Panther” film, and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” cleverly navigated Boseman’s devastating passing. 

Coogler has directed other notable films, such as “Creed,” “Creed II,” “Creed III,” “Fruitvale Station,” and “Judas and the Black Messiah.” Social commentary on Black people’s experience in society is prevalent throughout all his films. These themes spill over into his work with the Black Panther films, which focus on Black empowerment. Coogler has received the NAACP Image Award four times, and has been nominated at the Academy Awards for Best Picture.

The film, starting Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Tenoch Huerta, and Dominique Thorne, is centered around the people and governing body of Wakanda, an African nation with direct access to the most powerful resource in the world: Vibranium. The leaders of Wakanda try to fend off foes who are after their Vibranium, fresh after the death of their leader, King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman). 

The most formidable opponent of Wakanda comes in the form of the fish-people of Talokan, an underwater nation who also have access to Vibranium. The Wakandans developed a device that detects Vibranium–the entity responsible for detecting the presence of the Talokan people, despite residing deep under the ocean. Their leader, Namor, gives Wakanda an ultimatum: give them the scientist who created this powerful device, or they will attack Wakanda.

I have always been a big fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and this is my favorite Marvel film in recent history. It brilliantly introduces a never-before-seen tribe of characters, the Talokan people, in a breathtaking manner. The aesthetics of this film are unrivaled in comparison to other Marvel films, especially with the introduction of this dazzling underwater kingdom. 

The cultural impact of this film and its predecessor has been extremely powerful. People all around the world can be seen doing the “Wakanda Forever” motion with their arms, where the arms are crossed and rested on the chest, and the fingers are balled into a fist. In the original film, this is a salute to the kingdom of Wakanda. Athletes, social media influencers, video games, and even actors on the red carpet have been seen using this salute. With the introduction of this new Black Panther film, we can expect to see a resurgence of celebrities using the salute to show solidarity with the community surrounding the films. 

According to Variety, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” had a production budget of $250 million. According to The Direct, this massive budget makes this film the most expensive movie with a Black lead.

Both the original “Black Panther” and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” are outstanding films. The sequel hones in on the best aspects of the original: the aesthetics are excellent, the emotional involvement of the community is very present, and the cultural significance cannot go unnoticed. The films have bolstered Black representation in the MCU, giving children all across the globe heroes to which they can relate. I also really like the addition of Namor and the Talokans into the MCU, they differ vastly from the typical Marvel antagonists in their abilities and their habitat. 

Get your popcorn and snacks, and be sure to check out “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” It’s in theaters now!