After numerous attempts after so long, the long-awaited Black Panther: Wakanda Forever launches today. The sequel is a sad but powerful reminder of Chadwick Boseman’s absence, an actor who managed to transcend the cinematic screen and make a home for himself in the hearts of Marvel fans. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait long to see it on Disney+.
The truth is that Boseman was not just the Black Panther we fervently watched in the movies. In troubled times like these, figures like Black Panther have been essential in a fight that is still very present. Now, Wakanda Forever arrives to pay homage to Boseman, a film that’s significantly marked by his loss.
The unexpected loss of Chadwick Boseman
It’s a crime to talk about the cinematic Black Panther without discussing the powerful Chadwick Boseman. His brilliant interpretation endowed the character with exceptional charisma and helped towards the success he later acquired.
Something that not many knew about was Boseman’s battle with cancer during his participation in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He made the disease public at a later stage, which surprised many people (his physical condition seemed excellent). He had such discretion about it that he didn’t share anything with his co-workers, even Black Panther’s director.
Yet, Chadwick Boseman always was more than his character, T’Challa. Some of his shows, like 21 Bridges or Marshall, are top movies in his filmography that serve as examples of his superb acting skills. His illness didn’t hinder him from continuing his outstanding work, not to mention alternating with significant altruistic activities. One such activity includes his crucial fight against racism.
Who is Black Panther?
Jack Kirby and Stan Lee created Black Panther, who were also the creative, brilliant minds behind most of Marvel’s most iconic characters (Spiderman, Captain America, Hulk…we can do this all day). Back at that time, Black Panther’s emergence was revolutionary: he was one of a few black superheroes in mainstream movies, which is what marked his success.
The brand’s conception in 1966 reflected a time that was marked by the African Americans’ struggle for equal rights. Significantly, the Black Panther character became part of T’Challa’s identity as the king of Wakanda. The kingdom was one of the most technologically-advanced nations worldwide due to the abundance of Vibranium. T’Challa’s hallmark trait was his incredible agility and strength mixed with his outstanding intellect (one of the greatest minds in the Marvel Universe).
Of equal importance was Shuri, his younger sister. With a Marvel character that Reginald Hudlin and John Romita Jr introduced much later (circa 2005), she finally received a powerful, unique appearance by becoming the new Black Panther in the latest Wakanda movie (featuring actress Laetitia Wright).
Wakanda: the technological utopia
Black Panther’s story shouldn’t be separated from Wakanda, a country that no one colonized in the fictional story. Due to the existence of Vibranium, it quickly became the most technologically-advanced nation on planet Earth; that says something.
Many people and fans state that Ethiopia formed the real-life inspiration for Wakanda’s creation. As a matter of fact, Ethiopia is the only African country on the continent that managed to resist colonization. Yet, while the similarities are incredibly obvious, no one has confirmed this correlation.
Wakanda is protected and hidden from other nations in the world. The comic books describe it as a paradise with hills and mountains surrounding it without easy access. In the movies, a far more effective way of hiding Wakanda existed, namely, a giant hologram.
Black Panther, a different MCU movie
This movie that Ryan Coogler directed made quite a difference within the MCU by representing the first black superhero in a film. Also, most of the production staff members were African American, which means it was in the best hands.
(Warning: SPOILERS ahead )
The Black Panther plot followed T’Challa, returning to Wakanda to claim the title of the country’s leader after what happened in Captain America: Civil War. As you’d expect, nothing was going to go as planned. Vibranium deposits eventually attracted villains, such as Ulysses Klaus (Andy Serkis) and Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan).
Black Panther dives into problems and issues the genre and MCU aren’t used to dealing with, such as power struggles and racism. Powerful characters like Killmonger present a stunning depth that you don’t really see in other Marvel antagonists. His claim to the throne penetrated so deeply in the public eye that a movement formed on social network platforms with the hashtag “KillmongerWasRight“.
New faces in the MCU: who is Namor?
After several rumors, Namor finally enters the MCU hand-in-hand with the actor that presents him, Tenoch Huerta. While we may not know him as well as other actors, Namor has the distinction of being one of Marvel’s oldest characters. He is the son of a human and an Atlantean with more than 80 years of history. He has the opportunity to alternate between all sides within the comics.
Many consider Namor one of the first mutants on Earth. In the comic books, he formed part of the X-Men, the Defenders, and the Avengers at one stage or another. One of Namor’s interesting powers is flight, which is unusual for a marine being.
What connects him to Black Panther? If you’re a fan of the comics, you’ll know that Namor and T’Challa have almost killed each other several times. Wakanda and Atlantis have been foes for many years, so it doesn’t surprise us that the main storyline of Wakanda Forever involves the challenging confrontation of both nations and their leaders.
This movie presents noticeable changes from the comic books, though. It’s most likely due to the similarities between Namor and Aquaman ( the DC hero Jason Momoa plays in the DCU movies), making it change to a different path. In this case, the MCU opted for the Namor inspired by pre-Hispanic culture. The visual as[ects presented by the character remind us of Aztec and other Latin American cultures. Also, Namor’s city that he governs changes its name: Atlantis is gone and replaced by Talocan.
The legacy that Chadwick Boseman left us
The pain of losing Chadwick Boseman is still with us after so many years. His co-workers and family members keep his memory alive. They highlight the example that he was for the current generation, thanks to his roles in cinema and his humility.
The sequel is a tribute to the figure of Boseman and an exploration of the concept of loss. All in all, now we can only say: Wakanda forever!