‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ is lit

(News4usonline) – It’s hard to replace a legendary talent like actor Chadwick Boseman. It is even more difficult to fill the shoes of an extraordinary character that left many people shouting the popular slogan “Wakanda Forever,” one of the coldest and profound lines in cinematic history. 

The pain of losing the charismatic and super-talented Boseman to cancer in 2020, still stings. A lot. We are reminded of Boseman’s gigantic screen presence as the film “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” the sequel to the 2018 Marvel hit “Black Panther,” rolls to its opening scenes.

Angela Bassett delivers a powerful performance in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios

With “Black Panther” being such a monster hit when it hit theaters in 2018, there have been chatter and buzz all over social media and the Internet about how well the second installment of “Black Panther” would do without its major star. Thanks to the superb writing of the script and marvelous acting, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” would make Boseman proud. 

Aside from the obvious tribute to Boseman as Wakanda mourns the loss of King T’Challa, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” digs more deeper into the craft of acting as opposed to having explosions, super stunts and wild action running all over the place. 

Yes, there is plenty of action that you can pull from that will have fans of the Marvel genre can appreciate, but it is wonderful storytelling that easily makes “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” a complete buy-in. Without question, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is one of the best, if not the best acted MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) made.

 Let’s start with the force better known as Angela Bassett. With the fictional Wakanda seeking solace and direction in the wake of King T’Challa’s unexpected passing, Bassett, reprising her role from the first film as Queen Ramonda, delivers a passionate and stirring performance that’ll have you standing up and shouting Oscar! Oscar! 

Winston Duke as the hulking M’Baku in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios

Taking on the role as the country’s matriarch with Wakanda in disarray and battling outside forces trying to make their way into the powerful country for a well sought-after resource, Bassett dominates every scene she is in. Every movie has to have that one actor who has that special something to command audiences simply with their presence. Boseman was able to that as King T’Challa. 

Bassett takes on that mantle with no problem. Though she does not possess any type of special super powers, Bassett as Queen Ramonda leaves little room for her people and her country’s enemies to know who is in charge. Bassett as Queen Ramonda is both measured and authoritative when the moment calls for it. 

The strength of Bassett’s storied acting career carries the emotional weight of the film that lingers throughout. While Bassett holds down “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” with her well-versed acting chops, the rest of the cast is solid. Storytelling is simple. It also can be a powerful tool that can leave an indelible mark into your consciousness. 

This is what we see in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” The storytelling comes in the form of Ryan Coogler, who serves as the film’s director, and Joe Robert Cole. The rest of the part arrives in how well the cast brings their A-game to the table in this remarkable homage to Boseman. 

The epic loss of Boseman is felt in just about every aspect of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” 

You can’t get around it. It is the giant elephant in the room. However, Coogler and Cole come up with a masterful script that allows this latest Marvel blockbuster to take shape in a measured and a methodical manner. 

As Wakanda mourns its king, it isn’t allowed to stay there in that frame of mind. That’s because Namor (Tenoch Huerta) and the Talokan people go seeking to take over the African nation. Namor, also known as the Sub-Mariner in Marvel Comics, initially comes across as a good guy wanting to protect his people. Eventually, Namor’s true colors expose him not as a hero, but more like along the lines of an antihero. 

He is neither good nor bad. He is an opportunist. When he finds out that Wakanda holds the possible pathway of protection of his people due to the hard-to-get vibranium, Namor embarks on a deadly journey to get it. What ensues is both tribal communities wind up battling one another. Huerta plays it perfectly as the foil in this film as he works his irritating and manipulative ways to get what it is that he wants. 

Dominique Thorne plays Riri Williams aka Ironheart in the film “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios

Namor and the Talokan people are breached deep underseas where their water empire thrives. There are a lot of twists and turns in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. You’ll cry. You’ll laugh. There are points in the film where you’re going to get excited and hyped for the expected to come to pass, but it takes time. 

There is a slow deliberate build up to the film’s finale. This makes a lot of sense. Both on a personal and professional level, there is a balance the cast of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” had to reach in order to complete the task of wrapping up a project  without their unmistakable leader in Boseman. And they do it quite well. 

Letitia Wright as Shuri captures the essence of a younger sister grieving in silence at the loss of her big brother. The emotional tug that Wright brings  to her character is something we all feel. Winston Duke recaptures the essence of his strongman character as M’Baku, while Danai Gurira as Okoye as the banished general of the Dora Milaje shines as well. 

Of course, the gifted Lupita Nyong’o adds a dash of class and adventure to her role as Nakia as she answers the bell of Queen Ramonda’s request to go on a covert operation. One of the best surprises of the film is that audiences get their first peek at Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne) aka Ironheart. 

The appearance of Ironheart serves as an appetizer of what is to come in the MCU. But for the here and now, the debut of Williams has gotten off to a good start as she helps the Wakandans fight off the Talokan invaders. As the film leads up to and concludes with a dramatic finish, the echoes of King T’Challa lingers. 

With her nation reeling from being attacked, Shuri must decide what to do. This mental tug-o-war Shuri goes through in her mind is heavy. The load of carrying a nation is even heavier. Eventually Shuri, haunted by ghosts of the past, makes the decision that only seems to be inevitable.