Where I Watched It: Disney Plus
English Audio Description provided By: Deluxe
Narrated By: John Bentley
While I enjoyed the first Black Panther film, primarily because it had one of the best villains to grace a Marvel film, it’s not in my Top 5 or 10. It’s also not in the bottom either. it hovers in the middle somewhere. I’m too scared to actually rank these things, because i generally love all things Marvel, and the rankings would be so close, except for a handful of films that missed the mark entirely. I’m looking at you Eternals.
I enjoyed Chadwick Bozeman not just as Black Panther and what his contributions to the MCU were, but as an actor, he delivered consistent performances, always hinting at the future of an Oscar nomination, much like his Black Panther co-star Michael B Jordan has through his performances in Fruitvale Station and Creed. It’s an immeasurable loss to know he’s gone, and the trepidation we felt moving on with this franchise divided the internet. Many wanted him recast, many said just advance the current story and find a new existing character. They thankfully went for the latter, which gives an emotional gut punch right at the top.
The movie opens in a chaotic state as Shuri (an amazing Leticia Wright) is running around trying to find a cure to save her brother’s life. Quickly, we learn that she can’t, and that will weigh heavy on the Wakandans and her family moving forward. This is so easily felt in her grieving mother (an outstanding Angela Bassett) who has to mourn the loss of her son, after already losing her husband, and rise to the occasion as the new leader of her nation. In many scenes, her emotions are felt with a quake unlike anything we’ve really experienced in this universe. While we’ve dealt with death, it almost seems like no character has effected anything as much as the loss of Black Panther.
The film does quickly move into the sequel narrative, introducing us to new characters that should help shape the new marvel universe, like Namor and Ironheart (whose Disney Plus show is coming soon), as well as the appearance of Julia Louis Dreyfuss in her very Amanda Waller type character, Valentina.
I actually liked the sequel more. It does feel long, but in a weird way where I wasn’t sure what specifically I would cut. I just felt the runtime. but it’s all exciting, and seems like it advances the world and the plot. Ironheart is a lovely new addition, and her fresh faced approach adds a level of humor that the original Black Panther lacked, often taking itself far too serious.
While I’m starting to believe the cost of having an MCU with all these characters means you can’t have a confined film universe anymore without a hero needing to bump into you, I’ve had debates about where that crossover cameo should have been. I’ve heard the argument about why it was Ok to have no Avengers present at the funeral, but a few scenes later, a government facility is attacked. Where were the other heroes then? Who would be called in on that one? It might have been a great opportunity to show us where Wyatt Russell has been hanging out, as Valentina could have sent his Agent into the field. It’s hard to believe these major events happen now and no one notices, or no one but the one hero the film is centered on. like, the world is ending, and everyone is like “Oh, Peter’s got this. I’m gonna keep binge watching Friends.” It’s the problem we ran into when The Avengers defended New York City, the stomping ground of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage.
Aside from that, these actresses are on fire. In many ways I resent the solo attention Bassett is getting, because Leticia Wright and Danai gurira have never been better. The scene that moved me the most was between Gurira and Bassett, and just wrecked my soul. not just because Bassett was laying down the shame, but because you could feel that Gurira’s warrior wanted to die. Denying her the opportunity to rectify the situation and allow her to sacrifice herself for her country was almost as painful as Bassett’s continuation of grief and loss.
Three actresses really gave everything they had, and they packed an emotional punch that i very much appreciated. And for namor fans, now he’s in the MCU. So, there’s that.
The audio description here is… well… perfection? i sometimes talk about the appropriateness of the narrator. i did rewatch the original right before this, and it had a very stuffy Downton Abbey sounding Brit. The sequel has John Bentley, who I’m now obsessed with. I felt so many things through his narration. his voice is insane, and I’ll throw sexy into that mix. I’m not gonna lie. i believed that all things were connected in the great circle of life, and that he was my father. Bentley does the audio description for Doom Patrol and Titans, but we need to look into maybe letting him take over for everything James Earl Jones was responsible for.
Aside from that voice, the written script did an excellent job at not just showing us Wakanda, but also helping us explore Namor’s world, and being a great introduction to Ironheart.
Of the three Marvel films we got, I think Dr strange is stil edging out to be my favorite from last year. but, Wakanda Forever is running a close second. Like i said, it’s long, and it feels long. I’m not sure what I would cut, but I’ve sat through long films before and not felt the runtime because the pacing was exceptional. That tells me, that even though I’m not sure where the cuts should go, even five minutes could have made a tighter film. I’m not even sure we needed to chop that much out to make the pacing flow better.
Final Grade: A-
2 thoughts on “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”
Great review! And I, too, love John Bentley as an audio description narrator. However, just for clarification, I am the audio description narrator for seasons 3 and 4 of Doom Patrol on HBOMax.
My bad. Thhanks for the clarification.