There are comic book/superhero movies that rekindle the younger spirit and childhood nostalgia in us by offering a spectacle of wish fulfillment, and then there are those that elevate the genre by portraying the intricacies of human connections and emotions. Earlier this year, we had one such masterclass with “The Batman,” and as the year draws to a close, the MCU’s final movie of phase four, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” presents another such class act. The much-anticipated sequel to “Black Panther” had to live up to massive expectations as a follow-up to a trendsetting movie. At the same time, the unfortunate demise of the beloved actor Chadwick Boseman in 2020 left the sequel project in a precarious situation. Chadwick commanded the mantle of Black Panther with grace and strength, something that inspired millions of people of color across the globe. His untimely departure left a void that affected his fans across the globe, his director, and his co-stars, and also left the legacy of Panther in the MCU’s Wakanda unattended. Director Ryan Coogler makes “Wakanda Forever” wear this hurt as a reminder of the incessant grief but also as a symbol of hope, rebirth, and promise for a better future. Much like the first installment, “Wakanda Forever” utilizes an unorthodox, drama-driven (even more this time) method of unfolding its narrative in apparent action-adventure settings.
‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ Plot Summary: What Happens In The Film?
The movie begins with the tragic death of Wakanda’s champion and monarch, T’Challa, aka the Black Panther. T’Challa suffered from a rare disease that his sister, Shuri, believes could have been cured by the mystical heart-shaped herb that provides the Black Panther mantle holders with enhanced physical abilities. As Eric Killmonger previously destroyed all the mystical herbs during his reign, they are currently unable to provide some to T’Challa, and his condition worsens. Shuri tries to replicate the herb by artificially synthesizing it, which results in a product with a lesser match rate, but even before she can give it to her brother, T’Challa passes away. The country, along with Queen Ramonda, Shuri, and Okoye, mourns their leader in his wake. Fans will remember what T’Challa said to Natasha Romanoff during the events of “Civil War,” namely that in Wakandan culture, death is not considered to be the end of life but rather a stepping stone to a new dimension, the ancestral plane. Befittingly, in Wakanda, death is celebrated as we see countrymen adorned in white dancing, laughing, and singing in unison. The teary-eyed mourners, consisting of T’Challa’s family and close ones, and the joyous crowd of Wakandans present a beautiful yet stark contrast.
A year has passed since T’Challa’s death, and Wakanda finds itself surrounded by greedy opportunists. At a convention at the United Nations, delegates from the United States and France accuse Wakanda of hoarding a potentially dangerous mineral like vibranium and try to pin them into sharing the resource with the rest of the world. Queen Ramonda, who is now acting as the chief of state of Wakanda, enters the General Assembly and absolutely tears into both aggressors in her speech. She also reveals that these former colonizers tried to forcefully acquire vibranium by attacking Wakandian outposts but were vanquished by Dora Milaje instead. As evidence, she presents proof of one of the accusing country’s involvement in videos and by presenting the captured perps to the council. The Black Panther movie franchise was properly political right from the first movie, and it’s really good to see that it hasn’t changed in the sequel, either. The neo-colonial influences of first-world countries, which is very much present in the contemporary geopolitical climate, cut deep into the movie, as we see the corrupt world leaders trying to take Wakanda apart during its weakest moment when it is left without its protector. However, Queen Ramonda, along with Dora Milaje, proved themselves to be more than qualified to keep Wakanda’s sovereignty intact from these petty aggressors.
Queen Ramonda tries to implore Shuri to synthesize the heart-shaped herb for a better match with the original, but a despondent Shuri feels that with her brother’s passing, the necessity of the Black Panther mantle has expired too. Elsewhere, the CIA launches a vibranium detector at an underwater site in the Atlantic Ocean and finds the mineral. Almost at the same time, they are attacked, and the combined might of the CIA and Navy Seals is killed off by Namor and his Talokan associates. Ramonda tries to console Shuri by suggesting a ritual on T’Challa’s death anniversary, but Shuri is still living in denial and unable to shake off the pain. Namor goes to Wakanda and meets Shuri and Ramonda at the exact spot they are seeking solace. He blames T’Challa’s nobility for sharing the information regarding vibranium with the rest of the world, which has put Namor’s secretive submarine nation, Talokan, at risk of being exposed to the surface world. He states it is, therefore, Wakanda’s responsibility to track down the scientist responsible for such a device’s creation and hand him/her over to Namor. Concerned about Namor’s capabilities, as he was able to bypass Wakandan security rather easily, the Elders and the rest of the royal family decide to search for the scientist.
Shuri and Okoye track the scientist down with the help of Everett Ross, and she is revealed to be an MIT student, a gifted teenage genius named Riri Williams. The duo somehow manages to convince Riri to come with them back to Wakanda, as Namor will kill her if he finds her out. The trio is chased by the CIA, which is convinced that the attack at the mining site was made by Wakandans. They barely manage to escape the CIA, but Namor’s Talokan soldiers catch up to them. Okoye engages them in battle and gets defeated; Shuri somehow manages to convince the Talokans to take her and Riri to their leader Namor for negotiation. Okoye returns to Wakanda and informs the council about the situation. A grieving Queen, Ramonda dismisses Okoye from her duties as the leader of the Dora Milaje and seeks out Nakia, who is now residing in Haiti. Nakia agrees to infiltrate Talokan to extract Riri and Shuri. Meanwhile, the captive duo is treated cordially by Namor, who shows Shuri the kingdom of Talokan, a Mesoamerican underwater metropolis, and shares the history of its origin and his own birth with her. He also reveals his deep-seated hatred for the surface world, which he has nurtured since childhood as he has witnessed the vileness of colonialism, persecution, and slavery. Namor offers Talokan’s alliance to Wakanda and seeks support in his attempt to wage war against the surface world, as he knows sooner or later, those colonizing forces will seek to ransack Talokan. Namor answers Queen Ramonda’s call and threatens her with the prospect of invasion if Wakanda tries to infiltrate. Almost at the same time, Nakia trespasses into Talokan and rescues Riri and Shuri, but in the process, she delivers a fatal shot to a Talokan guard. Enraged to his core at this seeming betrayal, Namor attacks Wakanda and floods the country. Queen Ramonda saves Riri, but she drowns to death.
Mentally devastated at yet another death in the family, Shuri seeks the counsel of Nakia. After gaining some control over her pain, she successfully manages to synthesize the mystical herb from the remnants of the Talokan herb that were stored in the bracelet Namor gave her. Having reached a maximum match with the original herb, consuming the synthesized version provides Shuri with a vision of the ancestral plane. To her surprise, she encounters Killmonger, which suggests her desire for vengeance is gradually growing stronger as she wishes to kill Namor to avenge the death of her mother. Gaining similar enhanced physical attributes after consuming the herb, Shuri wears the Panther armor on her own and wins the approval of the elders. M’Baku senses the growing desperation and vengeance in Shuri and warns her that killing Namor carries the risk of eternal war. Nonetheless, Shuri remains adamant about her plan of exacting revenge.
Luring Namor and his martial Talokans to battle, Shuri manages to isolate Namor in a dehydration chamber of a Wakandan ship, which weakens him severely. Their battle climaxes in a desert, where Namor initially gains the upper hand by impaling Shuri but soon finds himself at her mercy after Shuri uses a blast to incapacitate him. Using the last strands of her moral fiber and receiving a vision of her mother from the ancestral plane, Shuri restrains herself from ending Namor’s life. She asks him to yield for the sake of Talokan. Namor yields and the battle ends as both sides make peace with each other.
Later, Namora, Namor’s cousin, seems upset about Talokan’s surrender to Wakanda and asks Namor the reason for doing so. Namor assures her that his decision was a tactical win for them, as Wakanda has to depend on Talokan as they are without allies. Now relatively safe, Riri Williams returns to the US. Everett Ross, who was arrested for treason by his wife and current director of the CIA, Valentina Fontaine, gets rescued by Okoye. Shuri visits Nakia in Haiti to seek solace and to perform the ritual that her mother urged her to do earlier. Nakia reveals she has been raising her and T’Challa’s son in Haiti for the past several years, far from the squabble of Wakanda. The boy named Toussaint states his Wakandan name to be T’Challa, named after his father. Shuri embraces her new family, brimming with a newfound feeling of hope.
“Wakanda Forever” boasts several strong performances from the talented cast, especially Letitia Wright as Shuri, Angela Bassett as Queen Ramonda, and Danai Gurira as Okoye, who simply own most of the scenes they are part of. The Black Panther franchise takes pride in its strength of representation, and in this installment also, the POC, including Latino culture, is represented beautifully. A special mention should be made of the movie’s background score and original songs, which elevate each pivotal moment. Ludwig Goranssan can surely become a top contender for next year’s Academy Awards for his work in the movie.
‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ Ending Explained – What Happens To T’Challa’s Legacy?
At the very end of the movie, Shuri travels to Haiti to meet Nakia and to perform the ritual of burning old clothes as a part of healing through the pain. Erstwhile, Shuri found herself riddled with pain, guilt, and desperation as she could never manage to cope with the loss of her brother. Even drowning herself in work didn’t help her either. As a woman of science, she also found herself troubled to believe faith and traditions would help her to move on. Misery piled up exponentially as she lost her mother, something that turned all her pent-up rage and guilt into a quest for vengeance. It isn’t until she becomes honest with herself that she manages to assert her individuality. She spares Namor’s life and, in exchange, frees herself from her own shackles. The burning of clothes is a symbolic way of letting the past go and moving on. Shuri manages to process her grief in a positive way and fits in the mantle like her country needs her to.
The mid-credit scenes of “Wakanda Forever” introduce Shuri and the audience in the process, with T’Challa and Nakia’s son, Toussaint, who states his Wakandan name is after his father, T’Challa. After the events of the movie, which saw Shuri losing two of her closest persons in quick succession, this was an emotionally very gratifying conclusion. Knowing she has a nephew not only provided Shuri with a new sense of belonging but also gave her much-needed hope for renewal. Incidentally, as Queen Ramonda said during the ritual, she felt T’Challa by her side, and Shuri finds her nephew with her as part of T’Challa.
“Wakanda Forever” presents itself as a farewell to the spirit of Chadwick by paying homage to his character on screen. The soundless MCU movie montage with Chadwick’s images creates a vacuum that acts as a reminder of his absence. MCU’s Phase Four films like “Love and Thunder,” “WandaVision,” and “No Way Home” have retained the theme of loss and grief, but nowhere is it more palpable than in this movie. Quite appropriately, there are no end-credit scenes added as a distraction. This movie doesn’t even need any amount of action sequence or a tease of world-building; for the makers and fans, it was always meant to be a passionate and earnest way of mourning the loss of a person they admired. The final shot of the movie is on a quiet beach with sunrays dispersing through clouds – a warmth associated with the imagery that will remind viewers of the undying spirit of the king of Wakanda!
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is a 2022 fantasy action film directed by Ryan Coogler.