Photo from Vox

After reeling from the death of King T’Challa, Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) and Princess Shuri (Letitia Wright) must lead their grieving nation against a powerful threat named Namor (Tenoch Huerta Mejía).

With the unfortunate and tragic death of Chadwick Boseman, I do not envy how director Ryan Coogler must have struggled to get the film made. Plus this film was wrought with production delays due to COVID-19. However, Coogler has not made a bad film yet. Wakanda Forever, while not my favorite MCU entry, is an engaging character-focused film.

I must also admit that I did not have much excitement about this film, which is not the film’s fault. In fact, the first trailer for this film is excellent. I am just tired of Marvel in general, especially with the recent drop in quality and the onslaught of mediocre TV shows that they have.

Ramonda, Shuri, and Namor are the characters that are front and center in this film. I must give kudos to Huerta Mejía, who was the standout performer in my opinion. His storyline is the one that really grabbed me. He was a formidable antagonist and has valid motivations for his actions. Bassett was also excellent and I think you can really feel her character’s grief. Shuri is the character that has to carry this film, which is a tough task as she was a side character in the first film. Wright is a good performer though and has an interesting arc here, however, I do wish we got to see more of her anger in the first part of the film as that only really showed up later in the film, in my opinion.

Okoye (Danai Gurira) was great in the first half of the movie, but she had less and less to do as the film went on. M’Baku (Winston Duke) also does not have much to do, but he had some funny lines. It was nice to see Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) again and Nyong’o looks beautiful in this film.

I do also have a lot of nitpicks. I thought the lighting was poor in the first half of the film. The editing, especially in the third act, is disconcerting and too quick. There were unnecessary plots involving side characters that really padded this movie’s runtime and were only included as a ploy to set up future Marvel projects. Michaela Coel from HBO’s I May Destroy You was wasted in her small part. The new suit for Okoye was ugly. The action could have been better…and so on.

I liked Wakanda Forever a little less than the first Black Panther. You do feel Boseman’s absence in this film, but it also does a nice job of honoring him. Bassett and Wright stepped up to the plate and delivered. And Namor was the standout character and had the most compelling storyline. However, I have more gripes than I’d like to with this film, which prevented me from fully enjoying it.

I give Wakanda Forever a B.

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