Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Early Reactions: Wakanda Enters A New Era

After months of hype, "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" is finally about to be released in theaters. It might feel strange and even sad to see Wakanda without the presence of Chadwick Boseman as King T'Challa. However, it has been made very clear that director Ryan Coogler and all others involved in the production did their best to honor the late actor throughout.

Of course, the memory of Boseman is not the only reason why "Wakanda Forever" has been getting a lot of attention. The film also serves as the introduction to Namor (Tenoch Huerta) and Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne), two fan-favorite characters that will likely serve as important figures moving forward (Riri certainly will, as she will be getting her own series, "Ironheart," on Disney+ in 2023). It also has a storyline that utilizes Boseman's absence in an interesting and poignant way — after King T'Challa's death, Wakanda has opened itself up to the rest of the world as he had promised. However, this decision has yielded some complicated results, leading to Wakanda facing a major conflict with the underwater city known as Talokan. 

With T'Challa's sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) now at the forefront, "Wakanda Forever" initially promises an epic and thought-provoking clash. Now that the film has held its world premiere, does it deliver on this promise? Here are some early reactions from critics who got to see it first.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever early reactions

Critics lavished their praises on "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," with many calling it "Marvel's most powerful and poignant work to date," intimate, heartfelt, yet jaw-droppingly "epic" in scope. The "stunning" visuals were praised, as were the performances and the brutal fight scenes. The film clearly deals sensitively with the passing of Chadwick Boseman, as many critics praised the themes of loss, grief, and catharsis. 

Germain Lussier of i09 tweeted that "Wakanda Forever" is "as epic as Marvel sequels get. The story is hugely ambitious & thematically rewarding with gut-wrenching twists and turns throughout. You feel the length but it's fun, wildly beautiful and has the best credits scene in Marvel history, no contest."

Variety's Clayton Davis was also impressed with both the film and that credits scene, saying the film is "a beautiful tribute to Chadwick Boseman. Visual stunner, with Angela Bassett commanding every scene she inhabits. Rihanna's 'Lift Me Up' will do that for many. Another great post credit scene that's genuinely a jaw-dropper."

Charles Pulliam from The Verge praised the film's scope and tone, even if he acknowledged the limitations of its genre. He tweeted that "its story is also one of Marvel's most intimate and heartfelt. It's definitely a Comic Book Movie, but it's one that centers grief and the grieving process rather than superheroics and spectacle."

Drew Taylor of The Wrap noted that the film "prioritizes sentiment over spectacle and for the most part it's a transporting and engrossing triumph. Arguably Marvel Studio's most deeply felt and emotional resonant extravaganza."

Collider's Steven Weintraub noted the tough balancing act Coogler had to walk in order to make the movie work, saying " Ryan Coogler had the impossible task of trying to make a sequel without Chadwick Boseman & make it feel respectful but also keep the franchise going and he hit a home run."

Writer and podcaster Kay-B echoed what others said about how the movie leans into the real-life tragedy the reshaped the film, noting "it is a beautiful depiction of how grief and love co-exist, and the healing in the depths of some of our greatest pain."

The most critical comment we found came from Erik Voss, but even his take was arrived sandwiched in the middle of praise for what the filmmakers had pulled off: "Black Panther Wakanda Forever makes it clear how precious Chadwick Boseman and T'Challa were to the MCU. Without him, the film sometimes yearns for a heartbeat. It finds it at just the right moments, and it's exhilarating. I can't wait to see it again."

It seems the praise is universal for "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," which is a relief for those looking forward to Coogler's sequel after he knocked it out of the park with the first film, and after the uncertainty for the franchise after the tragic passing of Boseman.

While the loss of Boseman is keenly felt, it's encouraging to hear that the film directly addresses his death and weaves it into the fabric of its story — even if a few reactions found the sequel still lacked the heart that Boseman gave the original, and that "Wakanda Forever" still was operating within the limitations of a comic book movie. Still, it seems like "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" will be one film to live up to all the hype.

"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" will hit theaters on November 11, 2022.