Brock Willard managing editor
The next installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is here, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” It’s been a mysterious film for much of its production cycle, with Marvel Studios only ramping up marketing for the film in the last few months of its release cycle. What are the broad strokes that audience members should know before taking in the film?
The film, directed by Ryan Coogler, is a sequel to the 2018 MCU movie, “Black Panther.” One stark difference between the two films is that the mantle of Black Panther, the titular hero, has been passed on. Chadwick Bozeman, the actor who played the character in the first film, tragically died of colon cancer in August 2020. The film’s direction had to shift because Marvel Studios elected not to recast his role. The film obviously deals with the absence of a staple hero in the MCU and how other characters which were periphery to Boseman’s character begin to step into their own.
There are a lot of interesting facets to discuss when it comes to this movie. The first and most obvious facet is how the film treats the absence of Boseman’s character. After his and his character’s in-universe death, the pressure falls to others to defend the fictional African nation of Wakanda from invading forces who are after the nation’s most precious resource, an incredibly powerful metal called Vibranium which has numerous applications. Wakanda is also dealing with a newfound identity after revealing themselves to the world as an extremely technologically advanced nation and not the small, isolated farming country that they were posing as. This reveal has made some others in the hidden corners of the world nervous.
A high-profile introduction made in this film is the character of Namor. Fans of the original comics will know this character but for those who don’t, Namor is the king of an underwater nation comparable to the myth of Atlantis. In the film, Namor fears that his homeland is now in danger now that Wakanda has revealed itself. A change from the comics is that Namor’s underwater kingdom is no longer directly inspired by Atlantis and European influences, but instead is inspired by Latin American mythology, even changing the name of the underwater civilization from Atlantis to Talocan, the realm of the Aztec storm god in Aztec mythology. It is unclear why they decided to make such a drastic change, but it may be to help distinguish Namor from his DC counterpart, Aquaman, who already had a released film in 2018 and explicitly featured the underwater civilization of Atlantis.
The film has been hyped as a respectful tribute and continuation of the story that Chadwick Boseman began, but only audiences can truly make that decision. “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” releases on Nov. 11 in a theatre near you.