Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever ★★★★½

Even as someone who has enjoyed most of Phase 4, I'll admit the most recent projects in the MCU have been struggling. But finally, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has broken Marvel's yearlong yips, with an event movie that feels weighty without meandering on more of the same, especially when it's the entry that had every reason to. There's no denying the hole that Chadwick Boseman leaves behind, but rather than hastily fill up the hole with whatever they can, Ryan Coogler instead calls attention to it, and allows grief and legacy to be the centerpiece of the film.

So many conversations about this movie surfaced around "Who will the next Black Panther be?" that I didn't even realize this was a chance for the entire ensemble of characters to shine in their own right (though I must admit Danai Gurira in particular was my favorite). Tenoch Huerta also steals every scene and continues Phase 4's sole improvement of having excellent antagonists. It leads to some truly spectacular action scenes, with really intense choreography and camerawork, and visual effects that stop your heart at times (thankfully this one looks finished).

The film definitely ran long, but I got to appreciate not only the epic gravitas of its story, but also the fact that the entire runtime was devoted to this singular story, and not once was relying on cameos or sequel set-ups to satisfy future projects. There were some surprise appearances, but all in service to the present story. Truly hard to come by in this genre nowadays.

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