BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER
By: Adam Freed
In lesser hands BP:WF is doomed. In the now multi decade history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this has to be the most difficult job handed to any director. How does one simultaneously advance a billion dollar franchise, mourn the loss of its most valued commodity, and plant roots for yet another Marvel spin off series? It’s a fool's errand really. Perhaps the real hero of this franchise never appears on screen at all. Whatever praise can be given to the director of a comic book movie needs to be heaped upon Ryan Coogler by the truckload.
Coogler has dealt with catastrophic loss within his films before. From Fruitvale Station to Creed the fragility of life and the inevitable nature of loss is presented with care and delicacy by the marquee names
tasked with carrying those films. But never has he, or anyone in this type of film, been asked to advance beyond loss and process grief’s multi-summit Rubik’s Cube without the lead of their film. This is a movie about loss. About waking up day after day knowing that the someone you, your family, perhaps your nation has relied upon, is never coming home.
It takes broad shoulders to carry this emotional burden and Coogler has at his disposal an army of talented women who make this impossibility seem pedestrian. Angela Bassett and Letitia Wright are stars, the former has been for decades, the latter is one in the making. The heartbeat of this film is the emotional range with which these two women carry the weight of loss while still advancing a story that may feel contrived in comparison to the films primary theme. In addition to the two central characters, Lupita N’yongo’s performance adds a layer of nobility and stability to the film.
Is Wakanda Forever as “good” as the original? Were Aaron Judge’s 62 home runs for the 2022 Yankees as good as the 1927 team? It is an unfair and frankly ridiculous comparison. The real question is who else could have accomplished what Coogler has with this film? The answer is no one.