Black Panther: Wakanda Forever — out this week — is the last full-length feature in Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase 4 lineup, gently dealing with the grief and serving as a tribute to Chadwick Boseman. Trusted with the responsibility of pushing Wakanda’s story forward, director Ryan Coogler had to rework the Black Panther 2 script, honouring the actor’s legacy, who sadly passed away in 2020, forging a new path for the fictional East African kingdom. The blip from Thanos’ Snap in Avengers: Infinity War probably also had an impact, promising a different, albeit subtle take on the land and its citizens.
In Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, former ruler T’Challa’s (Boseman) death has left them open and vulnerable, attracting unwanted attention from not just the power-hungry mortals hoping to extract Vibranium, but the Talocan god Namor (Tenoch Huerta) who leads an attack on Wakanda. Lacking the guidance of their former Black Panther incarnation, the returning familiar faces strive to embrace their next, uncertain chapter.
“A lot of us were there in the radius of it [Boseman’s demise]; we knew him. We worked with him for years and forged a bond with him that can only be forged through working on something that everybody cares about passionately. But he affected people that were not in the blast radius too,” write-director Coogler told Screenrant. “When you talk about making a Black Panther movie, his presence was right there on that call sheet. Even down to the fine details, we all carry him with us and we always will.”
With that, here’s everything you need to know about Black Panther: Wakanda Forever:
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever release date
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever runtime
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s runtime clocks in at 2 hours 41 minutes, making it the longest-running non-Avengers film.
2019’s Avengers: Endgame holds the record for the heftiest runtime in the franchise, boasting 3 hours and 2 minutes, which was followed close behind by Chloé Zhao’s Eternals, lasting 2 hours and 37 minutes. For comparison, the first Black Panther film was 2 hours and 14 minutes long, making the sentimental sequel about 27 minutes longer.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever cast
Letitia Wright returns as Shuri, the princess of Wakanda, responsible for all pieces of technology in the nation. As the younger sister to T’Challa, she is poised to play a larger role in Black Panther 2, continuing the bond she held with the former ruler, albeit through memories of fighting alongside as a sidekick. While not explicitly mentioned, a trailer for the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever suggested that Shuri will be taking the mantle as the new Black Panther incarnation, via a slick new suit, embroidered with golden seams. This goes in line with the comics, where, after spending much of her life in the shadows of men, Shuri eventually assumes the new identity as the ruler of Wakanda.
Lupita Nyong’o is billed second as Nakia, an undercover War Dog for Wakanda, hailing from the River Tribe. By the end of 2018’s Black Panther, both she and T’Challa solidified their relationship as a couple, though she was nowhere to be seen in the last two Avengers movies. It is unclear as to what happened during the five years span of the Blip which paves way for intriguing character development in the wake of her lover’s death. Nyong’o promised a more mature version of the spy in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. “[T]hese things, these world events and this personal loss, have affected and transformed her,” she said in an interview. “We meet a Nakia that has matured, whose priorities have shifted and sharpened. But the one thing that hasn’t changed? She’s the one you want to call when you’re in trouble.”
Danai Gurira returns as Okoye, the head of the Dora Milaje, the all-female honour guard who effectively leads the Wakandan attack forces. As a close advisor to T’Challa in the first film, I’m hoping we get to see some inner identity conflict within her, as she seeks a new purpose. “I felt a lot of parallel feelings with her because she’s trying to take care of everybody. She’s trying to focus, her nation needs her for stability, but has she gone through her grief?”, Gurira explains in regard to her character, whose leadership skills and confidence will be challenged by new threats in Black Panther 2.
Angela Bassett reprises her role as Queen Ramonda, forced to grieve the death of her son for the second time — the first being the five-year-long Blip tragedy. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, she explained that Ramonda will struggle between two roles in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever — managing the kingdom and its people, whilst being a mother, making sure Shuri isn’t left to mourn by herself. “She is the queen of Wakanda, the most powerful, most technologically advanced nation in the world, but she is also a mother,” Bassett said. “She’s balancing trying to keep threats to her nation at bay, lead her people, and mother her daughter, in the midst of the grief of losing her son and king. It’s a lot for her to handle.”
Narcos: Mexico star Huerta plays Namor, the mutant king of Talocan, who resides in an ancient underwater civilisation. Often referred to as the feathered serpent god K’uk’ulkan, the antihero vows to protect his people, who were put in jeopardy, once the former ruler T’Challa publicly revealed the truth of Wakanda at the end of the first film. How drastic of an action he takes to protect his kingdom will be revealed in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, but in a recent interview, Huerta clarified that Namor is definitely far from a villain. “Latin-Americans are always the bad guys in Hollywood movies. And now we are the heroes — or an anti-hero, in this instance,” he told Empire (via CBR.com).
Winston Duke will reappear as warrior M’Baku, the leader of the Wakandan mountain tribe Jabari, who are no longer isolated from the larger kingdom following the events of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. “[The Jabari tribe] have open borders, and we saw that M’Baku was really Wakandan. His entire community has expanded,” Duke said in an interview. “Now we get to see how he figures out a brand-new world for Wakanda; a brand-new world like we’ve had to experience. A world post-COVID; a world post-pandemic or mid-pandemic. Much like us, he’s going through a lot of the same things and figuring out how to move forward.”
In addition to serving a respectful sequel, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever also introduces Riri Williams aka Ironheart. Dominique Thorne (Judas and the Black Messiah) portrays the role of the genius inventor who creates an armour suit that rivals the late Tony Stark/ Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.). And while there are similarities between her and Shuri, in terms of passion for their craft, director Coogler notes that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will explore the “diversity of Black experience.” Thorne will also reprise the role of Ironheart in her own Disney+ TV series.
Martin Freeman returns as CIA agent Everett Ross, though at the time of writing, there are no details on what his involvement in Black Panther 2 is. It’s clear that he owes a debt to T’Challa and Shuri for saving his life in the 2018 film, but the character was nowhere to be seen in the later Avengers movies — no telling if he fell victim to Thanos’ Snap.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever also stars Florence Kasumba (Captain America: Civil War) as Ayo, a member and second-in-command of the Okoye-led Dora Milaje. Then we’ve got HBO’s I May Destroy You star/creator Michaela Cole as Aneka, the combat instructor.
In the early stages of development, Daniel Kaluuya, was set to reprise the role of W’Kabi, a confidant to T’Challa, but scheduling conflicts changed the plans, effectively removing him from the cast lineup for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever synopsis
Here’s the official synopsis for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever from Marvel Studios:
Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), Shuri (Letitia Wright), M’Baku (Winston Duke), Okoye (Danai Gurira) and the Dora Milaje (including Florence Kasumba), fight to protect their nation from intervening world powers in the wake of King T’Challa’s death. As the Wakandans strive to embrace their next chapter, the heroes must band together with the help of War Dog Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) and Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) and forge a new path for the kingdom of Wakanda.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever trailer
During the 2022 San Diego Comic-Con, held in mid-July, Marvel Studios dropped a sombre, music video-like teaser for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, pitting our heroes at war against humans and the marine-dwelling Talocans alike. This footage was also the first time we got a tease for Ironheart, as the aforementioned Thorne forged a heart-shaped chest plating for her Ironheart suit.
Then, in early October, Marvel dropped a full-length trailer for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, displaying the death procession for the former ruler and incarnation for T’Challa. Huerta played a key role in this trailer, as fearsome tall tales of Namor echoed within the Wakandan kingdom, with M’Baku (Duke) warning, “Killing him will risk eternal war.” At one point, you can see Namor coming to reason with Ramonda, on the cause of his unexpected attack on her land.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever reviews
Early reviews for the MCU movie are out now, standing at an 86 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 168 reviews. The critical consensus reads, “A poignant tribute that satisfyingly moves the franchise forward, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever marks an ambitious and emotionally rewarding triumph for the MCU.” Elsewhere, on Metacritic, Black Panther 2 falls a bit short, at 68 Metascore, as per 51 critic reviews.
The Gadgets360 review for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will be live tomorrow, the same day as the theatrical release.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever poster
Here’s the official poster for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever from Marvel Studios: