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‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ review: Tasteful tribute with too much story

Too much going on for the actual plot to leave any impact.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has more weight on its shoulders than any previous movie from Marvel Studios. Along with the pressure that comes with every Marvel Cinematic Universe release, it is the follow-up to one of the most critically and commercially well-received MCU films. The untimely death of Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman also followed the production. This was more than just another Kevin Feige blockbuster.

It is impossible to discuss Wakanda Forever without talking about Boseman. Since making his debut in Captain America: Civil War, Boseman’s Black Panther has been a favorite among fans and critics. This was cemented when Black Panther went on to break a number of records while also being nominated for seven Academy Awards. It did not take long for Boseman and his take on Black Panther to leave a large cultural footprint, and it was only natural to wonder how director Ryan Coogler would handle Boseman’s death.

The answer is by pouring as much of his heart into the project as he could and paying tribute with sensitivity and class. The cold open is somber and respectful leading to the familiar Marvel Studios banner with a change that will bring smiles and tears. The closing moments not only come full circle for one of the characters of Wakanda Forever, but provides another opportunity to honor one of the most important actors in the history of the MCU.

The entire film has a somber tone that is able to heighten the main storyline. Some moments that feel out of place -there is a cameo that seems more about showing the greater cinematic universe rather than adding anything relevant – but Wakanda Forever is well paced, for the most part. The movie almost three hours long – and it feels like it – but it never gets stale or repetitive. That being said, there are a number of stories and subplots the audience has to take in.

A major theme of Wakanda Forever is acceptance and finding the strength to move on. To that end, it is repeated that while T’Challa may be with the ancestors, Black Panther is still available to protect Wakanda. This idea is visited more strongly in the interactions between Namor (Tenoch Huerta, The Forever Purge) and Shuri (Letitia Wright, Death on the Nile). The two have shared pain and enemies. Unfortunately, the script introduces an interesting idea that is never fully explored. Instead, the movie touches on themes of colonizers and the fear of people of color having any sort of advantage, but does little with it.

The script tries its best to tackle a deeper subject, but with so much going on, it proves to be impossible. Along with references to other parts of the MCU, there is also the introduction of Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne, Judas and the Black Messiah). Thorne is another example of an overabundance of plotlines. After a great start, she is sent to the background for the remainder of Wakanda Forever. The film is never bad and the treatment of Boseman is moving, but overall it feels like just another over bloated Marvel movie.

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