Jack’s review published on Letterboxd:
Well that was an emotional rollercoaster.
Ryan Coogler, Kevin Feige and the entire cast of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever had the unenviable, Herculean task of rewriting the sequel to the most successful solo film in the MCU from scratch after the tragic demise of Chadwick Boseman. I cannot imagine how difficult it was making this film.
That said - I actually think Wakanda Forever is great, some relatively minor issues. This is worlds apart from it’s predecessor yet paves a new way forward for the Wakandans with great reverence to T’Challa and his legacy. I had a lot of fun with this film and it’s easily the best MCU project of the year.
The characters in the Black Panther franchise are my favourite in the entire MCU - all of which are fleshed out, flawed, funny and totally likeable. Every single actor in Wakanda Forever does a truly remarkable job - Angela Bassett, Danai Gurira, Winston Duke, everyone. It’s rare to see a superhero tentpole with such stellar performances across the board.
But the best part of this film, without a shadow of a doubt, is Letitia Wright and her portrayal of Shuri. I adored what was done with Shuri in this film. It’s such a difficult balancing act making a side character the main character, especially when it wasn’t the plan, but Ryan Coogler exceeds the best result I thought possible for Shuri in this film. Shuri’s journey is so touching, and the range of emotions brought to the role by Letitia Wright is amazing. This is one of the best tales of heroism in the entire MCU and I loved it.
As for what wasn’t so perfect - like it’s predecessor, Wakanda Forever suffers from some distractingly uneven CGI in spots - Ironheart’s armour, the underwater scenes in Talokan and various fight scenes. Wakanda Forever also definitely starts to feel lengthy near the 3/4 mark, and could have been edited down 20/25 minutes and would have been a better overall film for it. The third act also becomes a frenzy with quick cuts and an overwhelming CGI spectacle that exhausts rather than thrills sometimes.
Overall though, I really liked Wakanda Forever and think it’s as good as Black Panther in a lot of ways, even though it is very very different. This was a beautiful send off and tribute to a gone-too-soon icon Chadwick Boseman, and I left the cinema feeling genuinely moved by the film.
As a sidenote, Namor is awesome. One of the best villains in the entire MCU already, in my opinion.