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Wakanda Forever superior to its predecessor

Ever since I watched Wakanda Forever, I have been trying to understand why so many people disliked it. The mixed reviews started hitting the internet weeks before the film came out.

The few spoiler-free reactions I read suggested that the film suffered from Chadwick Boseman’s absence. Many entertainment journalists and pundits that initially opposed the idea of recasting T’Challa changed their tune and suggested that Wakanda Forever had failed primarily because Letitia Wright’s Shuri lacked the magnetic charisma that made Boseman’s character so appealing.

Well, Wakanda Forever was simply burdened by unrealistic expectations. Boseman’s death shocked Hollywood because the actor kept his cancer diagnosis a secret. You could argue that the Black Panther sequel became a therapeutic tool for the cast; a means of exploring and purging the sense of loss that continues to haunt them to this day, hence the heavy themes of death and grief that hover over the entire film.

But from what I have seen thus far, Wakanda Forever could not fill that Chadwick Boseman-shaped hole many viewers have carried since Boseman’s passing. Although, I still can’t figure out where this film fell short. Is Wakanda Forever the best movie of the year? No. In my opinion, that title goes to Everything Everywhere All At Once.

Is Wakanda Forever the best comic book film of 2022? No. I think The Batman was better. But is Wakanda Forever worth watching on the big screen? Yes.

At the very least, the sequel is vastly superior to its predecessor. I know some of you will disagree vehemently, because many reviews have accused Wakanda Forever of failing to recapture the magic of Black Panther.

But that assessment is confounding; Black Panther was decent. I would call it highly entertaining, but by no means a masterpiece. Wakanda Forever had everything you could want from a comic book movie: a solid, menacing villain with justifiable motives, an engaging protagonist with a compelling arc, exciting visuals and a decent collection of twists and turns.

Shuri’s arc in this movie was incredible. Again, I will disagree with audiences who argue that Letitia tried and failed to escape Boseman’s shadow. Her arc in Wakanda Forever is captivating. You can’t help but sympathize with her pain and the raging fire it sparks in her soul.

I think Letitia repelled some people because they expected her to fill T’challa’s shoes. I have seen too many comparisons between T’Challa and Shuri, which is unfair because Shuri is an independent character that plays a distinct role in the Marvel Universe.

It would be the equivalent of rejecting Dick Grayson’s Night Wing because he doesn’t hold a candle to Bruce Wayne’s Batman. Judge these characters for what they are, not for who you want them to be.

Now, I liked Black Adam more than Wakanda Forever. I can already hear your collective groan quickly followed by a slew of insults questioning my sanity. But I stand by my statement. Some of you think Black Adam is a bad movie. Guess what? I agree. I can’t even count the number of moments in that film that made me cringe. The dialogue was awful. I don’t know who hired that child actor, but I question their competence.

And yet, even with its many weaknesses, Black Adam was immense fun. You know how critics say that Zack Snyder’s films are all style and no substance? Well, Black Adam was all style and no substance, but in the best way.

Objectively speaking, Wakanda Forever was the superior movie, but I can’t say that it gave me the euphoric experience I expect from a great comic book movie of this caliber. It still left a lasting impression on me, but after those glorious trailers, I expected something great.  Wakanda Forever was simply good; better than its predecessor, but not great.

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