Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever ★★★★★

I actually think this is better than the first film. I'm not sure how many more thoughts I really have other than I thought the movie had a lot going on and it feels like Coogler has stepped his game up from the last one, despite the massive ask that was placed upon his shoulders. He really delivered here and I think Wakanda is better off for it. It's unfortunate that the nature of the MCU makes it nearly impossible to maintain this standard going forward because for once popcorn entertainment felt genuinely thrilling and engaging.

Letitia Wright is the lead here and sends it out of the park with everything she's given. Her character has a lot of ground to cover narratively throughout the movie and it takes a capable actor to really carry it all the way through, which she did. Bassett works well with what she's given (though controversially, I'm not convinced she's given enough that warrants a Supporting Actress Oscar) and Tenoch Huerta's performance of Namor makes him one of Marvel's most substantial antagonists with a genuine character and not just a big named actor chewing scenery as needed.

I was also caught off-guard by how much action there was considering the film also had to contend with being a sendoff for Chadwick Boseman, and I thought Coogler managed to do a great job of balancing the emotional heft of narratively tackling that grief with what audiences have come to expect of a superhero film. The conflicts here were really interesting and entertaining to watch, with some genuinely thought-provoking themes. I will also say another element that surprised me was how funny the film was at times, which brought some much-needed levity to the experience. This is perhaps too soon for me to say, but this was probably the best MCU film for me to date. At the very least, for the first time in a long time, it didn't feel like I had to intellectually compromise myself so much for it to feel rewarding.

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