After watching Wakanda, a fun idea for a possible sequel would be that they spend a little more time trying to make a good movie, instead of just making a movie.
News of Chadwick Boseman’s passing in 2020, who starred in the original Black Panther as T’challa, lead my initial thoughts to be that they should stop the Black Panther franchise, and my opinion still stands. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever should have never been created, as it is a nearly 3-hour-long trainwreck hidden behind a budget of $250 million. There is no heart to the film and is a soul-sucking experience. It is the epitome of what Marvel Studios’ 4th phase in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has stood for; Unstructured.
Wakanda Forever follows T’challa’s sister, Shuri, as she deals with the loss of her brother and a new threat from a secret city in the ocean, Talokan. The movie never really finds a moment to let the audience know what the plot is, so that’s the best I have. (Sorry)
On a pure filmmaking level, Wakanda feels messy and unbalanced. The editing is some of the worst seen in a multi-million dollar blockbuster, with abrupt Hard-Cuts, and horrible transitions. There were multiple times in which a scene would end before a character was finished talking, or before the audience could see important plot developments.
The lighting is so bad throughout most of the runtime you cannot see what is happening, and due to the awful audio transfer, in which dialogue and music are at the same levels, you can’t hear what anyone’s saying either. Had you been able to see the action, perhaps I could write about how that aspect of the film was entertaining, again, aside from the last 2 action sequences, I couldn’t see what was happening. The bland color grading only worsened this.
Along with those problems, the structure of the story is poorly executed, and confusing. The plot is consistently jumping from flashbacks, to a year in the future, and never properly establishes a time period from one scene to the next. I didn’t even know it was possible but, at the start of the third act there is a scene when it intercuts moments that are supposed to be happening in the future, but the characters talking are wearing the same clothes and are in the same room taking until the end of the scene to realize you were supposed to be interested.
There is not a single memorable moment throughout the narrative, because the movie isn’t sure what it wants to be, and has too much going on. Wakanda tries to be a political thriller about the world’s view of a country that holds the most valuable metal on earth, while also bringing in real-world politics through its villain Namor showing us his back story, and introducing us to Iron Man’s replacement who is building a new suit of armor and has no connection to Iron Man on any level. There are simply too many subplots that attempting to follow the main plot would require a notebook.
Namor is one of the worst Marvel villains. His plan is to kill a girl who made a machine that could bring his world out into the public eye. The movie takes around an hour trying to make us care about him, but he just doesn’t shut up and everything he says is preachy and nonsensical. The movie wants us to take him seriously so badly but then has him wearing a speedo, calling himself K’uk’ulkan, and oh yeah, he has little wings on each of his feet that make him fly… yeah, that’s where we’re at with superhero movies.
Shuri is a worse lead than Captain Marvel. Every decision Shuri makes is dumb, making her boring to watch and unrelatable. In a conversation with her mother Shuri says something along the lines of, “My brother died of a sickness that’s never explained and because of that I’m all grumps and want to burn the world down. I relate to Billie Eilish sooo mucchhh.” At one point M’baku, who is the best character in the film, is trying to help her cope with loss and she tells him off and then he’s like fine, and walks away. Having your lead make bad decisions and then be a tool to everyone around them is a good way to make a villain, not a hero.
Wakanda forever somehow manages to disrespect the culture and world of a country that literally does not exist and in the process, makes a mockery of what a Marvel feature should be. It is not a stretch of the imagination to say that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is the worst Marvel Studios production to date.
My Grade for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is an F