‘Wakanda Forever’ a fitting tribute to Chadwick Boseman

Kriti Gurukar, Staff Writer

One of the biggest questions after Chadwick Boseman’s tragic death was how the “Black Panther” franchise could possibly continue.

The beloved actor’s passing was announced over two years ago, giving fans time to heal and come to terms with the loss. Award-winning director Ryan Coogler reopens those wounds in the first minutes of the sequel, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” with T’Challa’s younger sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright), failing to recreate the Heart-Shaped herb, a plant that grants the user the powers of the Black Panther, in order to save her brother from an undisclosed illness. T’Challa’s mother, Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) informs Shuri and the audience of the king’s passing. Many theaters and fans reported a stunned silence during the following Marvel intro, which features a touching montage of T’Challa and Chadwick Boseman clips. This tribute sets the tone for the rest of the movie, which centers around the loss of life.

Marvel consistently incorporates different cultures and religions into its action-packed movies, the most recent being in “Thor: Love and Thunder.” “Wakanda Forever” is no different, with its beautiful blend of cultures, the film provides a deeper glimpse into African culture, specifically Wakandan culture, starting from in the beginning during T’Challa’s funeral and throughout the movie.

The film also incorporates Mesoamerican folklore through the antagonist, Namor (Tenoch Huerta), who is based on the Mayan god of the same name. Unfortunately, the impact of this blend was diluted by the presence of Agent Ross (Martin Freeman) and the movie’s desperate attempts to incorporate him and international powers. “Wakanda Forever” begins by demonstrating how foreign nations are trying to overthrow the vibranium-rich country. While their presence prompts Namor and his kingdom, Talokan, to take action, the movie quickly strays from the topic of international interference with the introduction of Namor. This removes the need for any American presence, and only adds a layer of confusion to an already complex plot.

If there was one thing missing from the two hours and 41 minutes long movie is the presence of the Black Panther. Yes, the heart-shaped herb was destroyed, but Shuri is eventually able to take up the mantle. It most definitely would be welcome if she had been pictured in the suit for a little bit longer than 30 minutes, though.

On a more positive note, the music was terrific. It was up to the standard of the soundtrack of “Black Panther,” which featured famous singers such as The Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar, and won two Grammys. Created once again by the ingenious Ludwig Göransson, the film’s soundtrack features more traditional beats that pay homage to African and Mesoamerican cultures. Rihanna’s crooning voice shines through in two songs during an already emotional and shocking end to the movie.

Additionally, the introduction of Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne) provided a welcome splash of comedy to a movie of mourning. Her introduction was rushed and rather confusing, but we can assume that it will be cleared up in her upcoming Disney + series. Her Iron man-esque character added witty humor and brought out the teenage side of a mourning Shuri that was able to lighten the mood.

To be quite frank, the movie was full of different elements that made it slightly confusing at times. However, the film came together at the end to create a moving tribute to Boseman, while still delivering action-packed sequences that make the movie worth rewatching.