On August 2020, the world was shocked over the sudden passing of Chadwick Boseman. At only 44 years old, he had a bright future in front of him, working hard to cement his presence in Hollywood as one of the greatest actors who has ever lived but sadly, that future was robbed from him, and us. With the announcement of a “Black Panther” sequel just a year after, everybody was wondering how is Marvel Studios gonna pull this off without its main lead. Is it even ethical to continue on without him?
Cut to 2022 and we have “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”. Just like in real life, characters in the movie mourn upon the loss of their king T’Challa. This affected Shuri (Letitia Wright) the worst because of all the technological achievements she has created using Wakanda’s vibranium, it’s not enough to save T’Challa from death. She carries this guilt throughout the year until an unknown force from the depths of the ocean threatens the safety of Wakanda which she then has to act for her people as the saviour and leader of her proud nation.
It isn’t clear how T’Challa died and it is better this way. Marvel Studios and director Ryan Coogler were very careful to treat that tragedy respectfully while going forward with the story, which is a huge responsibility in itself. What seems to be an impossible task for this story to go on without its titular character is done fairly well, though there are some aspects to the story that is a little bit messy.
I understand that the weight on Ryan Coogler to execute this project is a big one. Imagine having to tell a story without your main character, address his death, have it related to his family, introduce a new sidekick and a new villain – the latter coming from another ancient world, tell his back story, create conflict between him and the protagonist, and also forwarding the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) as a whole. In the hands of a lesser experienced director, this movie won’t make it at all. It’s a miracle that “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” even worked with what was going on off-screen. However, with this many stories, you can’t help but think it is too convoluted and could probably save some time (this movie is 2.41 hours long).
Ryan Coogler wasn’t the only one with huge responsibilities though. Letitia Wright who plays Shuri was also given the task to carry this movie by her own and she absolutely nailed it. Put yourself in her shoes for a second. Shuri was supposed to be a supporting character throughout the franchise but now, she is suddenly tasked to became the main character; the audiences’ lens into this story. Letitia Wright thankfully understood the assignment and gave one of the best performances in MCU history. You feel every emotion coming out of her to the point that it almost feels real. It wasn’t the character Shuri that is mourning the loss of her brother T’Challa. It’s the actress Letitia Wright for her friend Chadwick Boseman.
All in all, this is a beautiful tribute and an end to a beloved superhero who we will never see again. Maybe in a new rendition of the Black Panther, it will never be the same to what Chadwick Boseman brought to the table.