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‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ Review | A Deeply Cinematic Journey and Tribute to a King

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“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.

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Review

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.

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“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.

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¡Líik’ik Talokan!

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. 

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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.

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Final Thoughts

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.

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‘Blade’ Finds Its Director as Marvel Hires ‘Lovecraft Country’s’ Yann Demange for the Job

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It has been since July 2019 that 2-time Oscar-winning actor Mahershala Ali was brought in for a meeting with Marvel and asked to “pick a character” that he would want to play within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He selected the sword-wielding vampire hunter Blade, who was previously portrayed by Wesley Snipes on screen from 1998-2004. Though the announcement of Ali joining the MCU came before the 2020s, there has been a lack of news, and maybe even some that would categorize as bad news since hiring and then losing director Bassam Tariq due to creative differences. However, there is finally news on who will come in to right the ship for Ali and Marvel.

It has been reported by multiple outlets that Yann Demange (’71, Lovecraft Country) is set to helm the reboot of Blade for Marvel and will come along with a new writer as Michael Starrbury (When They See Us, Colin in Black and White) will write the newest draft of the script. Marvel has said that it aims for Blade to have a darker tone than other MCU projects. With Demange’s resume, his hiring makes sense in relation to past projects that he could be an inspired choice to direct this particular film. 

The film was originally set to begin filming this month but due to Tariq’s falling out with the studio, Marvel took their time taking pitches for weeks to find the tonal remedy and cohesiveness needed to move forward with the pic. Demange has other high-profile projects in development currently in addition to Blade including a reboot of 1981’s sci-fi thriller Scanners and Exit West, feature film collaboration for Netflix with Demange directing Riz Ahmed for the Obamas production company, Higher Ground.

Mahershala Ali is a 2-time winner in the category of Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role at the Academy Awards for Best Picture winners Moonlight and Green Book. Additionally, Ali was most recently seen (or heard) in Swan Song for AppleTV+ and his first role as Blade in a short off-screen voiceover in a post-credit scene in Eternals interacting with Kit Harington’s Dane Whitman. He’ll star next in the animated film, Wildwood from Laika Studios along with Carey Mulligan, Angela Bassett, Awkwafina and Jacob Tremblay which is set to be released in 2023.

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Angela Kang Joins as Showrunner for Amazon/MGM+ Series Revolving Around Spider-Man Character Silk in ‘Silk: Spider Society’

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Ever since the release of Oscar-winning animated feature Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Sony has been looking to expand their catalogue of Spider-Man comic book characters to live-action and animation. Venom, Morbius as well as the upcoming films, Kraven the Hunter and Madame Web have brought some of these characters to fruition on the big screen but the long-rumored project revolving around the character Silk is finally getting some updated news. 

According to The Hollywood ReporterSilk: Spider Society is finally moving along in development as the show has set a showrunner in Angela Kang. Kang is best known for show running and producing The Walking Dead from Season 3 onward to its final season which episodes are airing now on AMC. She’s also set to produce a spinoff series revolving around Norman Reedus’ character, Daryl Dixon which will take place in Paris. Kang recently moved her overall deal to Amazon where she’ll also overlook and produce the drama series, Black Sun for the streamer as Silk: Spider Society is being developed.

The series is set to air first on MGM+, which is Epix’s new rebrand that launches in Janury 2023 before airing on Amazon Prime Video. Silk: Spider Society will be produced by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who helped shepherd Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. The character, Silk or Cindy Moon is a Korean-American woman who is bitten by the same spider that bit Peter Parker and gains the same powers as Spider-Man. She begins to use these powers to escape imprisonment and go on the lookout for her missing family. I, for, one would love to see Squid Game star Hoyeon star as Moon in the series, she’s still very young and is already appearing in American projects after her starring role as Kang Sae-byok in the biggest Netflix series of all-time.

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Daniel Kaluuya Joins the Cast of ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ as Spider-Punk

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Daniel Kaluuya has already dipped his toes into the superhero waters with Black Panther. Though his character, W’Kabi, does not return within the upcoming sequel, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Kaluuya has signed onto another prominent title with Sony’s Marvel banner.

The Oscar-winning actor is set to voice Spider-Punk in the animated film, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, the long-awaited sequel to 2018’s Into the Spider-Verse. Kemp Powers, Joaquim Dos Santos and Justin K. Thompson will share directing duties on the project that will see Miles Morales and Spider-Gwen Stacy team up with other new Spider-Men to take down the relatively unknown villain known as Spot, who will be voiced by Jason Schwartzman.

Spider-Punk first appeared in Marvel Comics in 2015. The character also known as Hobart “Hobie” Brown is a homeless teenager who gets bit by a radioactive spider within the multiverse and operates under his own guise rocking a spikey mohawk and guitar. Kaluuya joins the already-stellar voice cast that features the aforementioned Schwartzman, as well as new and returning voice talent such as Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Brian Tyree Henry, Oscar Isaac, Issa Rae, Shea Whigham and Jorma Taccone.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse [credit: Sony Pictures Animation]

Phil Lord and Chris Miller return to write the script for Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse along with Dave Callaham. Across the Spider-Verse hits theaters on June 2, 2023 with the planned third film, Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse set to release on March 29, 2024.

Kaluuya starred in Jordan Peele’s Nope earlier this year and won an Academy Award just last year for his performance as Fred Hampton in the drama, Judas and the Black Messiah.

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