Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Scott Hardie: “It ruled.”
Loved it! Most audiences seem cold to it, but to me this is one of the best movies Marvel has ever produced, right up there with Winter Soldier. It's not as fun or entertaining as that or many other MCU titles -- this sequel is almost as humorless as its predecessor -- but it shows a real maturing of the brand, deftly able to handle complex personal and geopolitical themes while juggling some fairly complex world-building, once again with stunning production design and costumes and music. Marvel Studios has come such a long way since the simple smash-em-ups like The Incredible Hulk, to make a movie this complex and thought-provoking (and beautiful) while still being so emotionally striking.
One of its best tricks is making the race-swapping of Namor feel natural and unforced, not a product of "going woke" nor avoiding comparison to DC's Aquaman, but merely another way that this old Golden Age comics character could have existed, and an impressively imagined way at that. By making the character Mayan and a victim of colonialism, it allows for more perspectives and conversations about the practice than Wakandans could have had on their own, and it finds a new way to challenge the audience politically as well as the first film did.
At this movie's center, inevitably, is grief. One critic wrote about how each main character represents a different response to grief or a different stage in the processing of grief, which seems valid to me. If anything, the movie dwells too much on the loss of Chadwick Boseman when it could spend more time looking forward, but its tributes are touching. Also unnecessary are subplots involving armor upgrades and Ironheart and the CIA, which feel crammed in solely for later MCU stories; they're not bad, just inessential in a movie already full of great material.
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Scott Hardie: Minor quibble: Enough already with speed ramping in action scenes. I thought 300 pretty much exhausted that cliché 15 years ago, but it's still going. − November 17, 2022 more by Scott