Wakanda Forever: The Black Panther lives on in sequel

Rachael Hatchett, Director of Diversity and Inclusion

This article is spoiler free.

It’s been over four years since Marvel fans experienced another mystical sunrise in Wakanda. The collaboration from Grammy award-winning singer Rihanna and Nigerian singer-songwriter Tems was well worth the wait and set the raw emotive tone of the film. With luscious harmonies, soft, dreamy strings and Rihanna’s strong vocals on the leading melody, the film’s lead track “Lift me Up” felt reminiscent of a nurturing lullaby. The song and soundtrack as a whole eased audiences into their grief — conveying the message that it’s okay to feel what they feel and accept the temporary nature of death.

The opening scene combined with the Marvel logo tribute to actor Chadwick Boseman elegantly guided a communal space for viewers to grieve the 2020 death of Boseman — the Black Panther. The affectionate tribute left not a dry eye in sight as purple-hued glimpses and images of Boseman flashed across the screen, powerfully paying homage to the legacy of the Black Panther that audiences know and love.

The highly anticipated “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” set to release Nov. 11, guides audiences through the process of grief, transition, self-identity and acceptance. The sequel, masterfully executed by the direction of Ryan Coogler, picks up from King T’Challa’s decision to expose Wakanda’s location and possession of their powerful energy source, Vibranium. This highly emotional and resistant journey follows Queen Ramonda and Princess Shuri grappling with the fate of their beloved kingdom.

Once again Angela Bassett delivers a gut-wrenching performance holding the audience in the palm of her hands with her commanding tone. Her facial expressions hold the weight of Wakanda and motherhood. Letitia Wright’s witty and charming performance contributes to the playful mother-daughter duo, providing moments of relief within the film’s heavy context. Their flawless and natural chemistry defines what it means to “show them who you are.”

Coogler masterfully continues the essence of Wakanda from Marvel’s 2018 “Black Panther” and elaborately builds upon the intricacies of the fictional nation. The sequel flexes the scientific domination and intellectual prowess of the Wakandans through delving deeper into their innovation and progress, reiterating their position as the most powerful nation on the globe.

Similar to its predecessor, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” provides audiences with stunning visuals and expert cinematography. The terrifying, visually shocking entrance of the film’s antagonists, Namor and his Talokan force, is expertly color graded and lit, establishing the intensity of an unknown, isolated and emboldened threat. Venturing into the depths of the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, Talokan emulates the same grandeur and visual impact as the first flight into Wakanda.

Full of pithy one-liners, breathtaking visual entrances and shocking narrative arcs, audiences will crave every second of the film’s two hour and 41 minute runtime. The stunning wardrobes, chilling villain origin stories detailing ancestral roots and intense fight sequences catapult this film into one of the greats within the Marvel film canon.

This is a must-see film for its opening weekend. The singular mid-end-credit scene will bring back a whirlwind of emotions, so make sure to stick around for it. Remember to bring tissues — there will be tears.

5 heart shaped herbs out of 5