‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ pays tribute to Chadwick Boseman


Megan McKay, Staff writer

Marvel released a new film over the weekend, which has had a record opening upon hitting the big screen. “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” has been highly anticipated as it is the sequel to the original “Black Panther,” a favorite of many Marvel fans. “Black Panther,” released in 2018 became one of the highest grossing films of all time earning $1.4 billion worldwide. The film also quickly became a cultural phenomenon as it made history as the first big-budget superhero movie featuring a Black hero, Black director and majority Black cast. Additionally, “Black Panther” is a historic film because it correctly depicts Black heritage and celebrates African cultures, which have often been misappropriated in the past. The film won three Oscars among other accolades, and it was just as successful commercially.

Fans have been long awaiting the return of the superhero film, but the feeling is bittersweet. The film originally starred Chadwick Boseman as the Black Panther/King T’Challa. However, in 2020, a year full of tragedy, the acclaimed star passed away at age 43 after a four-year battle with colon cancer. Boseman battled in secret, with only his closest friends and family knew of the immense struggle he faced. Following his death, the world mourned the star and celebrated his contributions to the film industry. During his short career, Bose-man truly became a real-life superhero as he was constantly sharing the significance of shining spotlights on black communities. Following his untimely passing, a hole was left in one of the most important franchises in the Marvel Universe.

Without Boseman, the sequel is undeniably different than initially planned, but it will serve as a memorial for the acclaimed actor. The film is offered as a tribute to Boseman’s passing, and his character T’Challa is given a proper send off by the filmmakers and actors that loved him so dearly. Instead of replacing T’Challa and crowning a new King of Wakanda, his death is a formative portion of the plot. “Chadwick Boseman was an immensely talented actor and an inspirational individual who affected all of our lives professionally and personally,” said Marvel President Kevin Feige in an interview. “His portrayal of T’Challa the Black Panther is iconic and transcends iteration of the character in any other medium from Marvel’s past.” Feige described how they continue to honor Boseman’s legacy and the legacy he helped build as the King of Wakanda.

With the impact of his death, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” acts as a story of grief and tribute, both on- and off-screen. Fans can expect to experience a Marvel film unlike ever before. The film borders the fourth wall with the depiction of a real-world tragedy expressed through the characters and audience as they grieve both Chadwick and T’Challa.

The new film has brought in over $180 million sales domestically from the weekend, making it the second biggest opening of 2022 behind Marvel’s Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, which was released in May. The film received an 84% on Rotten Tomatoes compared to the original’s 96%. Compared to its predecessor film, critics have agreed on one thing: that the loss of Boseman weighs heavily on the film. Critics acknowledge his character’s importance to the impact of the story, so it is not unexpected that the original is superior. However, there is still a strong appreciation for the intricate world of Wakanda and the action-packed story. The film is undoubtedly worth the watch for Marvel and Boseman fans alike.