What Critics Are Saying About the Black Panther Sequel

It's overstuffed, overlong, and somber, yet moving
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 11, 2022 2:37 PM CST

The world didn't just lose Chadwick Boseman, Wakanda lost its King T'Challa, and both deaths are felt deeply in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which lands an 85% rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Following T'Challa's death from an unnamed illness, his mother, Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) takes the throne, but faces new threats from an underwater king who proposes an alliance—or else. Four takes:

  • Director Ryan Coogler "feeds his own and the public's grief into the story, infusing the movie with somber notes of family loss and collective mourning" while displaying "a matter-of-fact superhero feminism," writes AO Scott at the New York Times. And while the film, "like many Marvel movies, has too much plot," it's made interesting by Coogler's "signature interplay of genre touchstones, vivid emotions … and allegorical implications."
  • The film is "overlong" at nearly three hours, writes Jake Coyle at the AP. But it manages to honor Boseman—whose character is laid to rest in a scene "as stunning as anything Coogler has shot"—and "the rich Afrocentric world of the landmark original" while "weaving in a Latin American perspective." Coyle adds that Tenoch Huerta "brings a magnetism" to the role of Namor, leader of the underwater kingdom Talokan, where another source of vibranium has been found.

  • At Vulture, Angelica Jade Bastién offers a different take, arguing the film is "too surface-level in its characterization and thematic entanglements to function as a worthy memorial to a star gone far too soon." "It is a film not about Blackness or Indigenous identity, though it hides behind the sheen of both," she writes. And without Boseman, "the sequel struggles to hit the graceful emotional frequencies of its predecessor."
  • Coogler should get credit, however, for doing something radical: He "spreads the usual singularity of the Marvel hero … across three or four different characters, all of them women," writes Dana Stevens at Slate. She also applauds the "awe-inspiring spectacle" and "spectacular costumes by Ruth Carter [that] surpass even the glory of the original." And yet, while the film is "frequently moving and occasionally thrilling, the gears sometimes grind audibly on the shift in between."
(More movie review stories.)

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