By Maggie Ma
2018’s “Black Panther” became the first superhero movie to be nominated for an Oscar. Now its sequel ” Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” will be released this weekend, is expected to be on top of this year’s box office again. May be the sequel cannot be a cultural phenomenon like the previous one, but it’s still an achievement in any level. With characters experiencing the loss and grieve, the sequel is emotionally heavy , packed with stunning fighting sequences and visuals. In addition, this one introduces one of the most horrified villains: Namor and a new character Iron Heart (Iron Heart) both contributed exciting action scenes to the film.
After Chadwick Boseman passed away, instead of choosing to replace him with other actor, the creative team in Marvel decided to let the characters go through grief and loss in the movie as well.
The loss of a loved one is an unavoidable life experience for everyone. Grieving is both a state and a process. One must take time to heal and it may lead to growth and become stronger or It also can lead to anger and violence. “Grief” is such a common experience that everyone can relate to. Director Ryan Coogler had started his writing of the script before Boseman’s passing, but decided to change the story to how King T’Challa’s death will affect people around him and Wakanda. It was a right decision. Not only appropriate but also brilliantly helped the development of other characters’ arcs.
The passing of the Panther King meant that Wakanda was without a guardian and is vulnerable to the outside world. Other countries like America were trying to find vibranium elsewhere but then leads to other troubles. Namor, the god of the undersea world Talocan, has become a new threat to Wakanda.
With loss of family, Suri’s heart is full of anger and grief. Will she become like her brother to put the humanity in front or will she turn choose violence like Namor or Killmonger ? The film puts Suri through the whole process of grief. With help from her Mom Queen Bassett (Angela Bassett), Nakia (Lupita Nyong) and Okoye (Danai Gurira), also a genius college student called Riri Williams, Suri tries to learn to be strong, mature and become a leader to her country.
The women in the movie are strong and fearless. Even if their physical strength is not as strong as Namor, there are still many ways to deal with the enemy by using intelligence and technology. The movie highlights the group efforts and brings light to all the female characters instead of only focus on one, showing the ultimately advantages of collective efforts.
One of the reasons of what I like about the film is that it took a lot of time to set up its villain and the underwater world Talocan is beautifully designed. Talocan is heavily influenced by Mexican culture, detailly showed by costumes, set designs, and language. The movie brings African culture and Mexican culture together and creates two amazing worlds. If you think Wakanda is cool, wait to see the soldiers from Talocan . They always steal the scenes and have the best entrance every time they are on the screen.
Mexican actor Tenoch Huerta was chosen to play Namo, not only showing his strong muscles in the movie, but also creating a more complicated character with layers . He is brutal and frightening. Even the director pointed out Namor is as strong as Thor or the Hulk. A strong villain means better action sequences and more emotional compact.
Like Suri, Namor faced the loss of his family, and was gripped by anger and revenge. Also similar to the last villain Eric Kelmongo in the previous movie, Namor refused to work with other humans. In order not to be invaded by other countries and protect his own people, he is willing to use violence. Then the theme returns to the issue faced by the King T’Challa in the first movie: as the leader of a kingdom, how to protect your own country by not hurting others? Even though this film is a superhero blockbuster, the political and diplomatic strategies discussed always reflect reality.
Iron Heart (real name Riri Williams), played by Dominique Thorne, makes her debut in this film, becoming a useful helper for Wakanda . With extraordinary intelligence, and a cute sense of humor. The character fits in the story very well. She will have her own series on Disney+ next year. Everett K. Ross, starring Martin Freeman, is also back again, continuing to aid Wakanda as a friend.
The overall impression of the film is that although it is two and half hour long, there are so many things happening, barely a tim e to rest and it’s definitely action packed. But importantly, screenwriter and director Ryan Coogler focused on importance of storytelling and characters crafts, giving emotional impact to the audiences. There are also moments to pay respect to Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther. A complexed villain always helpful for story and Rihanna’s music is just icing on the cake.
“Black Panther 2” will be released in North America on November 11. There is a post credit scene at the end.