‘Black Panther’ sequel explores grief and improves on first film

Fallon Blair, Online/Entertainment Editor

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” expands the world of Wakanda, while also dealing with the unexpected passing of the film’s lead actor Chadwick Boseman in 2020.
Astonishingly, director Ryan Coogler was able to make the most of an awful situation and use Boseman’s loss to tell a riveting story that expertly showcases grief and the various ways it can affect people.
Taking place one year after the unforeseeen passing of King T’Challa, friends and family members of T’Challa are still in shock and continue to grieve his passing. Amidst this sorrow, a new threat arises in the form of the secret underwater nation of Talokan and their leader Namor.
As conflict between the two nations begins to increase, viewers also get to see the similarities between their two young royals Shuri (Letitia Wright) and Namor (Tenoch Huerta), adding more complexity to their rivalry.
This film allows side characters from the first movie to have significantly more screen time and character growth, especially for Shuri and her mother Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett).
Shuri feels responsible for not being able to keep her brother alive and has become more reserved and distant in her grief. Throughout the film, she finds the strength to start accepting T’Challa’s death and its consequences.
Being a technology-centered person, Shuri also learns that she can strive for change in her country while still embracing its essential traditions and values.
On the other hand, Queen Ramonda is much more expressive and accepting of her son’s passing and uses it to maintain Wakanda’s security and status.
Proving to be, in my opinion, the strongest actor in the film, Angela Bassett does an incredible job playing off Ramonda’s extreme confidence and prowess in every one of her scenes. Along with her character’s striking vocal/physical presence, Bassett also delivers some very emotional and powerful monologues that could probably get her an Oscar nomination come award season.
The cinematography and visual effects have also massively improved from the previous film, especially seen in scenes showcasing the underwater kingdom of Talokan.
Despite its jarring obstacles, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” was able to do the impossible and stand as a sequel that exceeds the first film, thanks to its skillful coverage of complex and mature themes and outstanding performances that make it a stand-out film in a time where Marvel Studios has prioritized quantity over quality.

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