Entertainment | November 16th, 2022
Chadwick Boseman’s Legacy Lives on Through ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’
By: Jaden Bowen
After a four-year-long wait for arguably one of the most anticipated movie sequels in history, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” hit theaters this past Thursday.
Following one of the biggest blockbusters of all time, the first Black Panther film, the sequel certainly met every expectation.
Much like the experience of Marvel fans and the Black community worldwide, the film mourns the death of King T’Challa, famously played by the late Chadwick Boseman, who died in 2020 from colon cancer.
Both devastating and unexpected, Boseman’s passing shifted director Ryan Coogler’s original intentions for the script. With the help of the cast and crew, they were able to reimagine the sequel, paying tribute to Boseman and his beloved character throughout the film.
Marvel displayed a silenced reel of Chadwick Boseman’s legacy with the franchise as the redesigned opening sequence. The purple backdrop honors his character, taking over the usual MCU-themed red one.
The introduction of the complex antagonist Namor (Tenoch Huerta), also challenged the characters.
Namor is the sovereign ruler of Talokan, an underwater kingdom influenced by Mayan culture. Like T’Challa’s role as King and Black Panther, he is responsible for protecting his people from the outside world, but their methods of protecting their lands separate them.
The cultural significance of Wakanda and Talokan adds to the depth of a film that already pushes boundaries for the BIPOC community. The beauty is that Black and Latino audiences can see themselves within these characters.
Although the gravity of T’Challa no longer being present in the story weighs on the actions of the other characters, the way that the starring actresses depict the vulnerability of Black women serves as the emotional anchor to the film.
The return of Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Basset, Danai Gurira, and Letitia Wright’s characters embody the heart and soul of this project.
Now stepping into the forefront of the story, they must tackle the themes of overwhelming grief, vengeance, and, ultimately, hope.
Nyong’o, who plays “the spy” Nakia, Gurira, the fearless protector Okoye, and Basset, the matriarch leader Queen Ramonda, each embrace their reprisal roles amidst the passing of one of their own.
These women do an outstanding job taking charge while also portraying the development of their storyline arcs.
The qualities of the original movie are still present, including representing its Afrocentric influences, lovely visuals, and thrilling fight sequences.
Another significant detail about this sequel was its portrayal of the nuances of grief and finding stability in a world crumbling around you. In finding that balance, Shuri (Wright) embarks on her battles. A year after T’Challa’s passing, she struggles to cope with her grief, burying herself in her technology and questioning her spiritual connections.
A defining moment leads her to take on the mantle of the Black Panther, previously bestowed on her brother.
There was a lot of discourse surrounding the future of Black Panther and how the sequel would move forward after Boseman’s passing. Many debated whether or not his character should be re-casted. Ultimately, the producers and executives decided to go the route of the comic books in which Shuri becomes Black Panther, and Wright dominates the screen, to no one’s surprise.
The film also introduces two new members to the franchise who audience members and comic book fans can be proud to welcome into the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Michaela Coel and Dominique Thorne.
Coel made her Marvel debut as Aneka, a skillful combat fighter a part of the Dora Milaje, the all-female warriors of Wakanda. She also provides comedic relief and queer representation alongside Florence Kasumba’s character Ayo.
Thorne joins the MCU as 19-year-old Riri Williams, a long-awaited appearance from those familiar with Marvel comics as her superhero title, Ironheart, is inspired by the fallen Avenger Iron Man.
Riri is a “young, gifted and Black” inventor with her own agency. She will also star in her own Disney+ series “Ironheart” sometime next year.
The decision to make this movie more female-focused was well-received by viewers.
While several men share the screen, like the return of Agent Ross (Martin Freeman) and M’Baku (Winston Duke), telling the story through the superheroines shaped the movie on a new level.
And, of course, Chadwick Boseman’s presence is felt throughout the entirety of the film.
There’s an emotional connection between the actors that was felt among the audience as the film progressed. Not only were the characters grieving, but the actors were too.
“At first, right after he passed, I just could not imagine how we go back to Wakanda,” Nyong’o told PEOPLE for their November issue. “And then Ryan calls me and walks me through this story that embraces the loss and is very much asking the question, ‘How do you go on after you experience tragedy and deep loss?'”
The accompaniment of the sequel’s soundtrack served as a farewell to Chadwick Boseman’s legacy while celebrating everything the movie stands for.
The “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” compilation soundtrack featured two singles from global sensation Rihanna dedicated to Boseman: “Lift Me Up” and “Born Again.”
These tracks are meaningful for fans, not just because of their heartfelt message but because they mark the artist’s return to solo music after six years.
The film concludes its nearly three-hour runtime with a post-credit scene you don’t want to miss.
Currently climbing in box office numbers, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is in theaters.