Review of Ryan Coogler’s Wakanda Forever

Review by Heaven Infinity
Developmentally Edited by Alexandra Hidalgo

Copy Edited and Posted by Shannon Seidel

Wakanda Forever (2022). 2hrs 41 min. Directed by Ryan Coogler and written by Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole. Starring Leticia Wright, Angela Bassett, Dominique Thorne, Danai Guirira, and Lupita N’yongo.

Wakanda Forever opens with the royal funeral and grief ceremony of T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), who passed away off screen. The scene is filled with flowing white fabric—headdresses, pants, and dresses, all in the color Wakandans wear for funerals. Their faces are decorated in white war paint, clinging onto their skin and refusing to be washed away by mournful tears. This pain was real for actors, as they were grieving for Boseman as well who passed away in 2020 from colon cancer. I personally shed a few tears in the opening scene (and throughout the entire film) as I watched T’Challa’s sister, Princess Shuri (Leticia Wright) rise to the task of becoming the next Black Panther, carrying on her brother’s legacy while also creating her own. 

Black Panther was praised by critics and audiences alike for its groundbreaking representation of Black culture and its exploration of themes surrounding identity and power in black communities. It was also celebrated for its stunning visuals, from the breathtaking landscapes of Wakanda to the intricate costume design and use of Afrofuturist aesthetics. Fans were eager to see if Wakanda Forever would live up to the legend of its predecessor, which it absolutely did.

The film’s plot ignites when an unexpected guest arrives in Wakanda. Namor (Tenoch Huerta Mejía) is the king of the Tanokonil. The latter are a species of mutants who thrive in an underwater kingdom called Talokan, based on Tlālōcān, the Aztec underworld realm. Namor is seeking allyship against the US government, which is trying to harness vibranium from Talokan by fracking. Vibranium is a much sought-after metal in the Marvel Universe, being that it can absorb, store, and release large amounts of kinetic energy. The fight for vibranium in Namor’s kingdom is a not so subtle reminder of the American governments’ dark history of polluting and extracting resources from land owned by indigenous populations. Namor wants to work with the Wakandans as allies, as they are linked by the trauma of being BIPOC kingdoms constantly battling colonialism. Shuri learns the device used by the US to detect vibranium in the oceans was created by super genius Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne), who just so happens to be a black student at MIT., so with  the help of Wakandan War General Okoye (Danai Guirira), the new Black Panther sets out to find her.

With Shuri, Okoye, and Riri in the front seat, the film can’t help but turn into a black feminist dream, and it does so beautifully. With the help of their old friend Nakia (Lupita N’yongo), Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), and countless other female war heroes, these powerful black women steal the show. 

 Wakanda Forever was the continuation of an inspirational journey I started in 2018 when I watched the first Black Panther. These films constantly remind me of something I’ve always known deep down about myself and about the black women around me: we can do anything. Whether that be something as simple as feeling free to cry in the movie theater (as I sure did) or something much more complicated like saving the world.

Watch the trailer for Wakanda Forever and keep up with author Heaven Infinity by visiting her profile.