“Black Panther 2: Wakanda Forever” isn’t worth the watch

By Farah Bassyouni Nov 18, 2022

On Friday night, a good friend and fellow movie lover texted me after seeing “Black Panther 2: Wakanda Forever.” Going into the film, he shared the same concerns I did about making this movie too soon after Chadwick Boseman’s death. In his text he said, “I can’t believe it. They gave Coogler the keys.” 

He lied to me.

This film was worse than I thought it possibly could be. I’m baffled that Ryan Coogler actually allowed this movie to be made and released.

“Black Panther 2” follows the kingdom of Wakanda as they grieve the death of King T’Challa. The late king’s mother Ramonda takes over as leader of the nation and is faced with a number of problems. 

At the forefront of those issues is that Wakanda isn’t hidden anymore. Other nations are chasing after Wakanda’s vibranium, an element that can be used to make weapons of mass destruction. 

While the United States is searching for the precious element, they run into the Talokan, an underwater nation similar to Wakanda. 

The Talokan are led by a mutant, Namor, who has winged ankles, super strength and super speed. Namor wants to wage a war on the surface world and is seeking support from Wakanda.

Usually I try to keep a summary in a movie review to a couple of sentences, but there’s so much going on in this movie, it’s impossible to condense the plot. Because of that, “Black Panther 2” boasts a 161-minute runtime. That’s the second longest runtime in the MCU, beaten only by the three-hour-long “Avengers: Endgame.”

What’s especially frustrating about this film is that the long runtime is wasted. Pacing drags at numerous points in the film and it could have been just as effective if it were an hour shorter. What could writer-director Ryan Coogler cut out? The external conflict with the Talokan. 

There’s been a misconception for a long time that superhero movies need a supervillain to be good. The public has long discussed how superhero films like “The Amazing Spider-Man” and “Wonder Woman” could be so much better if they weren’t forced to include villains like Lizard or Ares. Sometimes, a superhero movie can just be about the superhero.

If I take a step back and look at “Wakanda Forever” without the threat of Namor, the movie gets a lot better. I have a feeling that Coogler felt the same way because everything about the villain felt over-commercialized and recycled.

Namor’s conflict is a beat-for-beat ripoff of DC’s “Aquaman.” 

Who saw “Aquaman” and thought that it would be a good movie to pull from? It sucked! 

An underwater nation going to war with the surface world is a cool concept, but it’s just as underdeveloped in “Black Panther 2” as it is in “Aquaman.”

In a typical review, this is when I’d break down some of the cinematography, the acting, the writing and so on. But what’s the point here? It’s an MCU movie. We all know what to expect from the cinematography — all of these movies look the same. 

Coogler’s usually impeccable writing is punished by forced one-liners. The acting is below average and the performers seem like they’re in the film for a paycheck and nothing else.

Much like the first “Black Panther,” the soundtrack to this film was a standout, but that’s really the only thing that made it different from the rest of the MCU for me.

There was only one moment in this film that I liked, and it was the ending. I won’t spoil the plot of the film, but it ends with an emotional beat of Shuri reflecting on T’Challa’s death. The emotion in that scene was real, and I wish more characters got a chance to do that. The actors behind the characters in this film mourn for Boseman just as the characters mourn the loss of their king. Let the viewers see that. Let his death mean something.

For that single scene I was going to give the film a full star. Then, it was ruined by a post-credits scene in which a child is introduced who’s Wakandan name is T’Challa. 

It’s played as something that could set up a sequel, and set up a new T’Challa. I’m ashamed of Marvel for that scene. I don’t plan on seeing any more MCU films for the foreseeable future and I encourage others to do the same.

 

 ½/5 Stars

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