'Wakanda Forever': Black Panther Sequel Grieves the Past & Builds the Future - Hope 103.2

‘Wakanda Forever’: Black Panther Sequel Grieves the Past & Builds the Future

Any return to Wakanda was always going to be hard, balancing the real-world loss of a friend and talent with the need to take a storyline forward.

By Laura BennettTuesday 15 Nov 2022Hope AfternoonsMoviesReading Time: 3 minutes

When Chadwick Boseman passed away in 2020, the grief of his loss wasn’t only felt by those close to him, but by legions of fans who had been won over by his work and the cultural impact of his role in Black Panther.

Any return to Wakanda was always going to be hard to do right, balancing the real-world loss of a wonderful friend and talent with the need to take a storyline forward in one of the most lucrative franchises of all time.

In large part, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s ability to do that comes down to Letitia Wright (Shuri) and the extraordinary ease she exudes in taking on a more central role within the lineup.

In Black Panther, Letitia’s Shuri was the smart, youthful, comical little sister to her iconic big brother. Now, while those traits remain, the loss has molded her into an increasingly fierce Princess who’s determined to preserve the Wakandan identity her brother so deeply loved.

The way that plays out in the movie – without giving away anything – is through the introduction of a new world power that threatens to go to war with Wakanda unless they agree to form an alliance against other world leaders wanting access to newfound vibranium reserves.

Promoting the film, Letitia spoke about the moment she found out about Chadwick’s passing and said she thought at that time making another movie would “be impossible”.

The producer (Ryan Coogler) told Letitia “I feel like the way we can navigate the emotions of this film is through the lens of Shuri’s eyes and feelings”.

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To be able to take on the task Letitia said, “I found that instead of closing up I had to open up in order to express what Shuri was feeling”.

“So, in order to tap into that dark, deep place that she was feeling, I had to be real about the dark, deep place where I was at, and my cast members were at.”

What results is a movie that gives incredible honour to one of its castmates – reminiscent of the way the Fast and Furious franchise acknowledged Paul Walker – while also building into the future significance of the Black Panther character.

The storyline allows for repeated discussions about the finality of death – or not – and how those that pass continue to impact us. You get the sense that these themes were a cathartic outlet for the characters in the movie, as much as for the audience watching on.

Visually, Wakanda Forever is stunning. The costumes and the way they’re so richly infused with ties to African heritage and culture is genuinely breathtaking. They’re part of what makes Black Panther so distinct from Marvel’s many other movies and heighten its ability to wow audiences who might otherwise have blockbuster fatigue.

What the Black Panther sequel might have been if Chadwick Boseman was still here we’ll never know, but full credit to a cast and screenwriters who have been able to handle the loss with tangible respect while giving fans a film that will satisfy their desire to go to Wakanda once more.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is in cinemas now.