“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is breathtaking and emotionally powerful as it showcases a grieving Nation on the cusp of war after heartbreakingly losing its king. It’s a beautiful story about overcoming grief and what it does to the Community and the people you love. It perfectly honours Chadwick Boseman’s legacy.
In Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” 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. Introducing Tenoch Huerta as Namor, king of a hidden undersea nation, the film also stars Dominique Thorne, Michaela Coel, Mabel Cadena and Alex Livanalli.
A Grieving Nation
Writer-director Ryan Coogler has crafted an immense emotional sequel, led by a phenomenal ensemble of women. These influential women of Wakanda are front and centre throughout and each brings to the screen such empowering performances as they are dealing with great change Coogler beautifully and powerfully depicts how each character deals with grief, revenge, and how it can all consume you. Bassett is heartbroken and hopeful in the role of Queen Ramonda, she delivers a stoic, commanding performance as she takes the throne until T’Challa’s replacement is named. With a tense and emotional opening, you get the sense that Shuri feels responsible for her brother’s death, she has these conflicting emotions that truly balance the movie, and there wasn’t a dry eye throughout as a funeral procession takes place, showcasing a celebration of what T’Challa brought to the nation. Wright showcases how Shuri processes her pain as she uses work and technology for distraction and her emotional, gripping performance carries Shuri through the grieving process as Coogler does it again by exploring the war that wages inside of you as self-reflection follows and serves as a reminder.
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” truly emphasises the importance of Community and the role they play in helping someone deal with grief as well as dealing with their sorrow. Throughout, T’Challa’s peers step into a comforting, reassurance sibling role for Shuri, and the entire cast indeed rises above. Danai Gurira’s Okoye is willing to put her career at risk to aid Shuri’s grief, especially in one sequence where she brings such emotion during an exchange with Ramonda. Winston Duke’s M’Baku enters munching away on a vegetable and provides a performance capturing how T’Challa’s influence visibly changed the Jabari Tribe and its leader. He provides Shuri with such sensitivity in his counsel.
However it is T’Challa’s love, Nakia played by Lupita Nyong’o who offers her support to Shuri throughout the personal parts of her journey . Nyong’o provides such tenderness and has some memorable moments in the latter half of the movie. Her mother and T’Challa’s friends are there to remind Shuri that life goes on, though Shuri isn’t ready to accept that.
The other new addition to “Wakanda Forever” is Dominique Thorne’s Riri Williams who is fiery and personality is infectious. Her appearance and introduction into the MCU sets the stage for her own Disney+ series “Ironheart” Martin Freeman’s Everett Ross is intertwined with this political subplot as he brings such comedic and fun energy as he attempts to aid the Wakandans. Award-winning TV star/comedian Michaela Coel joins the cast as another fierce and funny member of the Dora Milaje.
The Power left by T’Challa’s death incites a challenge to Wakanda from the outside world. The outreach program from the end of the first film remains however there’s immense political pressure for Wakanda to submit and obey regulations. The United Nations’ demand for Wakanda to relinquish control of its resources sets up themes of colonialism. With Killmonger having destroyed the Heart-shaped Herb that granted T’Challa superhuman abilities, there’s no new Black panther to protect its nation.
When the United States discovers the film McGuffin at the bottom of the ocean, Wakanda finds itself in conflict with the underwater kingdom of Talokan and its ruler, Namor. Talokan is heavily inspired by real Mesoamerican culture, regalia, and Jewellery, and features Maya-styled murals. Namor’s people who speak Yucatec Maya, call him the “feathered serpent god” or K’uk’ulkan. Their open-palmed hand gesture and Talokan salute “¡Líik’ik Talokan!” are inspired by similar gestures found in Maya codices. Tenoch Huerta Mejía’s performance as the engaging antagonist makes him a force to be reckoned with, his dialogue scenes with Shuri are intense though the two share much in common as important members of their monarchies’ royal families. Coogler and co-writer Joe Robert Cole showcase how far Namor goes to protect his people’s homes, Talokan is another fascinating aspect and society that Marvel could do a deeper exploration of.
Mabel Cadena and Alex Livinalli are incredible as Namora and Attuma, both characters act as a reminder to Namor that the surface people can’t be trusted. These two also feature heavily in the incredible action sequences whether that’s on dry land or underwater, one is especially breathtaking visually on a bridge. The underwater sequences in RealD3D were outstanding. Oscar-winning costume designer Ruth Carter and composer Ludwig Göransson do a phenomenal job of adding Mayan-inspired costumes and music to the proceedings.
Throughout “Wakanda Forever” the biggest thrills come from watching the two nations clash. The Women of the Dora Milaje are fierce warriors crossing the spears with the gilled warriors of Talokan whose battle gear resembles deadly marine life. They fight and battle across land, sea, and air, and the action ranges from intense car chases, daring escapes, and three-on-one brawls all punctuated by water grenades that essentially cause tidal waves.
T’Challa & Chadwick Boseman’s death weighs heavy on Wakanda Forever, with the grieving nation struggling to replace both their monarch and their champion. It’s an emotionally powerful, gripping farewell & perfectly honours his legacy! With powerful Oscar-worthy performances and direction, shows how much love Coogler and the cast have poured into the making of this movie which is no doubt the best of Phase 4. I’m truly lost for words.
Marvel Studios’ Secret Invasion Review: Nick Returns With A Fury
The following piece was written during the 2023 Writers Guild of America (WGA) and Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the television series being covered here wouldn’t exist.
Overview Of Secret Invasion
Secret Invasion is set in the present-day Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Nick Fury learns of an invasion of Earth by a faction of shapeshifting Skrulls. Fury, joined by Everett Ross, Maria Hill, and the Skrull Talos, who has made a life for himself on Earth, races against time to stop an invasion and save humanity.
Brief Summary (Contains Spoilers)
The series starts off with Talos pursuing Everett Ross for the murder of a CIA agent, who had information about a potential Skrull rebellion. Maria Hill arrives on scene and discovers that Everett is a shapeshifting Skrull and contacts Nick Fury to request assistance. Nick returns to learn that not only has Talos been exiled from the Skrull Council, but Gravik is taking the lead with the rebellion. Fury approaches an old acquaintance by the name of Sonya Falsworth to propose an alliance, but to no avail. In the meantime, Talos reunites with his daughter, G’iah who shares with him the location of a Skrull attack in Russia. The mission to stop the attack not only end in failure, but in the death of one of Fury’s team mates. Fury and Talos is forced to escape to fight another day.
Gravik gains the support of the Skrull Council to lead them in a new war. Fury is blamed for the attack in Russia and the death of one of the team members, and is discharged of his duties. Sonya learns from another rebel that Gravik has a new weapon, a machine that can help enhance their strength with the use of powered DNA. The rebel’s next target is the Royal Navy. Their attempt to launch a missile at another aircraft is however thwarted by collective efforts from Fury, Talos, Sonya and G’iah. G’iah attempts to run away but is confronted by Gravik who shoots her and leaves her for dead.
G’iah, however, survives and lives to fight another day. We quickly learn that there is a rebel Skull Imposter posing as one of the Avengers. The rebels turn their focus on the President of the United States, and posing as Russian soldiers almost succeeds in their attempt, however, they leave behind many casualties. The rebel Skrulls tries to convince the United States President to attack one of the Skrull compounds. Gravik is willing to call off the attack in exchange for something from Nick that could potentially tip the scales in the favor of the rebels.
The last episode ends with a short but grand face-off between Fury and Gravik with a special twist…but I will leave this for you as the viewer to experience on the screen.
The summary has been written in such a way as to not spoil too much for the viewer.
I really enjoyed the suspense and surprises that the series brought with every episode. Even though the series was only 6 episodes long, it kept the suspense alive and it kept the golden thread going that is taking place within the broader MCU. As you may recall, Captain Marvel’s movie end where she flew off to find a new home for the Skrulls and this series continue many years later where some of the Skrulls feel the promise of a new home has been broken. Even the blip is referenced and it keeps the memory alive of a world still affected by Thanos’ snap.
The rating for this series is definitely a 4 out of 5. The story had a feel of a crime drama and spy thriller. The fight scenes were amazing and I personally felt the last episode could have been longer to give us an even longer fight. There are many questions that this television series have going through my head that I won’t list over here to limit spoiling the experience for you as the viewer. I can only hope that some of the questions will be answered in future Marvel Studios productions.
Olivia Colman’s portrayal of Sonya Falsworth was really amazing to watch and I really hope we get to see more of her in future productions. Emelia Clark and Kingsley Ben-Adir brought in a breath of fresh air as G’iah and Gravik respectively. As always, having Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury is epic to say the least, and I encourage keeping both eyes on his performance throughout the MCU.
I highly recommend watching Iron Man (2008), Iron Man 2 (2010), Thor (2011), Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), The Avengers (2012), Iron Man 3 (2013), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Captain America: Civil War (2016), Black Panther (2018), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Captain Marvel (2019), Avengers: Endgame (2019), Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019), WandaVision (2021), Falcon and the Winter Soldier (2021) and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022) before watching Secret Invasion. These movies provide the detailed backstory to most of the returning characters. These movies and television series are based on the list of recommendations made in Marvel Studios’ Legends as well.
There is no post-credits scene, so no need to wait till the end. The whole series is now available on Disney Plus so make sure to watch. This series is rumored to tie-in with both The Marvels and Armor Wars, upcoming movies in the MCU.
Prowler: Character Profile
The following piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the comic book material being covered here wouldn’t exist.
The mantle of the Prowler has been carried by many characters in the Marvel Universe. I will be writing briefly about some of the famous characters.
Aaron exposed his brother Jefferson to a life of crime, and while Jefferson went out to redeem himself and become both a law-abiding citizen and a police officer, Aaron continued his life as a career criminal, known by the name Prowler, the cat burglar. Oscorp was one of the targets during one of his burglary jobs. While their he left with a chemically engineered spider, Specimen 42, which was the same spider that bit Miles.
Even with no super powers, Prowler is a force to be reckoned with because of both hand-to-hand combat ability and superior technology that is supplied to him via the Tinkerer. He regularly faces off against Mac Gargan who uses the alias Scorpion. As with most Spider-Man villains Uncle Aaron eventually crossed paths with Spider-Man, who in this case is his nephew, Miles Morales.
Hobie is a talented and innovative kid, and when no-one considers listening to him or giving him a chance at proving himself he ends pursuing a life of crime. He targets the Daily Bugle with the intent of impressing his girlfriend, Mindy. However, this attempt brought him face-to-face with Spider-Man and resulted in a life-changing defeat. Spider-Man gave Hobie a chance to share his story and let him go, only to return at some point to ask Hobie to stand in as Spider-Man for a short while.
Spider-Man was implicated in the death of Captain George Stacey and this encouraged Hobie to use his Prowler persona to hunt down Spider-Man, but in the end he was overpowered and came to the conclusion that Spider-Man can’t be a murderer. He eventually married his love, Mindy and tried to have a normal life. This is short-lived when his little brother got murdered, presumably by the White Tiger. The Prowler and White Tiger faced off in a massive fight but as most murder mysteries go, someone else was responsible for the death of his little brother.
Hobie even applied to join the Defenders, but the application was not successful. Hobie teams up with Spider-Man to help find evidence to clear his wife, Mindy when she gets framed while working for the infamous Justin Hammer. In a similar fashion Hobie teams up with Spider-Man again, but this time to help clear Spider-Man’s name when he gets accused of theft. Hobie eventually joins up with the Outlaws, teaming up occasionally with Sandman, Rocket Racer and Silver Sable.
Hobie and Rocket Racer decides to enter the Great Game, a super-powered fight contest organised by wealthy people. This didn’t end well for Hobie as he ends up paralyzed after the competition due to a spinal injury. A hospital worker who learned of Hobie’s secret stole the Prowler costume.
Upon learning about Hobie’s secret role as the Prowler, Rick went as far as breaking into Hobie’s home to get his hands on the Prowler costume. The next homes he targeted was those of other patients. He eventually crosses the path of the Vulture. Vulture, still cross with Prowler about a previous failed job doesn’t go easy on Rick, but Spider-Man intervenes and both villains are forced to flee. Vulture returns to attack Rick at home and Spider-Man arrives to save the day, webbing up the Vulture, taking Rick to hospital and returning the Prowler costume to Hobie.
I highly recommend watching Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse to see another possible hero wearing the mantle of the Prowler. The abovementioned biographies are covered in brief to allow you as the reader to explore more of the Prowler’s stories and adventures when going through comics, watching the movies or even subscribing to Marvel Unlimited. This is definitely one of those characters who I would like to see explored more, either in the Marvel Cinematic Universe or even in a Sony Pictures Movie. Mahershala Ali voices Uncle Aaron in Sony’s Spider-Verse movies. Donald Glover plays the role of Uncle Aaron Davis in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I’m really holding thumbs that we get to see him wearing the mantle of the Prowler in a future Marvel Studios production. Just imagine him teaming up with the Sinister Six and giving our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man a tough time. But for now, get to a cinema near you and experience Across the Spider-Verse on the big screen.
Kraven The Hunter: Character Profile | Hunting Season Is On
Hunting season begins in October 2023 with Kraven the Hunter bracing the big screen. Sergei Kravinoff is on a mission to prove that he is the greatest hunter in the world and who knows who be the main targets will be in the movie. We experience his rise to the top before the notorious rivalry with Spider-Man.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson plays the titular role. Make sure to catch the red band trailer online.
A Brief Look At The Biography of Kraven the Hunter
Sergei Kravinoff was born and raised in Volgograd and St. Petersburg. His alcoholic father would beat him and Sergei would in turn take out his frustrations on Dmitri, his half-brother. The Bolshevik Revolution forces the Kravinoff family to emigrate. Sergei loses both his parents and is forced to learn to survive on his own. He travels as a stowaway aboard ships and trains from country to country. He discovers his passion for hunting in Africa. He also changes his name from Sergei to Kraven.
He becomes a wealthy game hunter because of his remarkable hunting skills. He steals a witch doctor’s potion during his time in Africa which enhances his physical prowess and abilities to hunt. The potion helps to decelerate the ageing process, thus Kraven looks like a thirty year old man, even though he is much older. He is stronger, faster, agile and can jump very far. You can find rifles, darts, axes, spears, whips, gas bombs and even blowguns in his weapon storage. However, he comes with many tricks up his sleeve such as poison-tipped teeth in his belt and electronics in his lion’s head vest.
He forms a partnership with Dmitri to help with trading animal skins and ivory that he acquires during his hunting sprees. However, big game isn’t the only targets on Kraven’s list. He meets his match, the web-slinging hero, Spider-Man but Spidey evades him most of the time. Kraven joins up with Dmitri and even the Sinister Six at a later stage to take on Spiderman. He is no stranger to the Avengers. He joins Dum Dum Dugan’s original Avengers’ Initiative alongside Nick Fury, Namora, Sabretooth, Ulysses Bloodstone, Dominic Fortune, and Silver Sable.
Kraven shared the herbs with Dmitri to give them both an edge in combat, especially when squaring off against Spider-Man. He saw the friendly neighborhood hero as a monstrosity and fueled by both fear and rage never quit taking on the wallcrawler, but Spider-Man secured a win over both Kraven and Dmitri, now known as the infamous Chameleon. This resulted in them being deported back to Europe, but Kraven and Dimitri found their way back to America. Doc Ock recruits Kraven and other members into the Sinister Six, but even this team is no match for Spider-Man and this results in their capture and imprisonment.
Kraven is eager to do jobs for other famous villains such as the Green Goblin and Mister Sinister. His job with Mister Sinister requires him to obtain DNA from other mutants. This physical altercation results in another face-off with Spider-Man. A face-off against the Vulture resulted in both Kraven and Vulture being captured by Spider-Man. Kraven even landed in hot water with law enforcement and the Fantastic Four when he got caught supplying hallucinogens to other important role-players in New York.
The above are mere highlights of Kraven’s stories and meant to serve as an appetizer.
I’m honestly excited for this production and can’t wait to see how it links to the wider Sony Spider-Man’s Universe. Looking forward to all the possible action and fight scenes. And will we get to see Spider-Man? Let’s wait for hunting season to begin at a cinema near you.
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