by Merecedes J. Williams, For New Pittsburgh Courier
When an actor dies, the character typically dies with them. After an intense battle with colorectal cancer, “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman died just months after Marvel began filming for “Black Panther 2” in 2020. The biggest question walking into a movie theater this weekend is, “How can the film franchise succeed without the Black Panther?”
But in some brilliant, creative way, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” and Director Ryan Coogler honor the cinematic fallen solider and his character, King T’Challa. We needed all 161 minutes of this film to bridge the treacherous journey from grief to glory.
“Wakanda Forever” is that ancestral guide for Black families, especially as it relates to losing a loved one, navigating the steps of grief, and honoring your loved one beyond the grave. Chadwick Boseman’s death transcend the role. The death of Chadwick Boseman is bigger than Black Panther and generates a deeper conversation about all the people we have lost over the pandemic (COVID-19 related or not).
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” which opens in theaters on November 11, stars Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett, Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong’o, and Winston Duke. Marked in Wakanda a year after King T’Challa’s death, the nation is still picking up the pieces from their shattered lives and protecting the land from outsiders who want to capitalize on their precious resource, Vibranium.
Wakanda’s future is compromised when a new nation, equipped with similar resources, tries to join forces.
This installment of Black Panther is “The Woman King,” “Power Rangers,” and your second favorite Marvel movie wrapped in a nice present.
The film’s other gift is the fluidity and self-expression of Black women—your obvious new generation of Black Panthers. Not place holders, temporary fixes, and lurking shadows, but these Black women carry the torch.
A pleasant surprise and cast addition, Michaela Coel really stood out and was a breath of fresh air. She traveled across the pond to play Wakanda warrior, Aneka. The British actress and screenwriter was fierce, and not only fought in the film but fought for her spot. Coel auditioned for a role in the first Black Panther 10 years ago, didn’t get it, and now graces the big screen.
Her small, but mighty role celebrates the very essence of this film. Black actors and artists are provided with Hollywood’s biggest platform, a mainstream Marvel movie.
The film’s impact is almost as important as its actual existence. “Wakanda Forever” will ignite healthy conversations and learning opportunities for young people around culture responsiveness, social justice, diversity and inclusion, representation, and STEM fields.
That’s the biggest takeaway—Black Panther, even in the untimely demise of Chadwick Boseman, still found a sweet, somber crossroad to pay homage to him and our ancestors, while shaping the future for every Black Panther to come.