Every Fight Scene In Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Ranked

Warning: This article contains major spoilers for the movie "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever." 

Every new Marvel Cinematic Universe movie is a cause for excitement, but the thrill was dampened around the release of "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," one of the most anticipated films of 2022. There is simply no getting around the huge hole left behind after Chadwick Boseman's tragic death. The film pays loving tribute to the departed hero and manages the hand-off about as well as can be imagined. While the movie acknowledges and grieves the loss, it does not wallow. The story is subdued but cut from the same stylish cloth as its predecessor. It is beautiful and often moving.

It also features people getting punched in the face. To crib a line from another beloved franchise: this is the way. When you boil it all down, comic book movies are about incredibly gifted people using their powers to beat each other up. It's a law of the genre. Silly as that may be, these super-powered fisticuffs are frankly a large part of the attraction. And "Wakanda Forever" doesn't skimp on the fights. Here's the lot of them, sorted on a scale from least to most awesome.

7. Nakia vs. Talokanian guards

Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o) is really more of a spy than a soldier, but she knows how to handle herself and isn't afraid of mixing it up. This low ranking is more an indictment of her opposition in this scene than of Nakia herself. After Shuri (Letitia Wright) is abducted by the Talokanians, Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) travels to Haiti to draw Nakia out of retirement. Nakia is resistant — for good reason, we later learn — but agrees when she hears what happened. Then, she goes all Bruce Wayne with high-tech gadgets and cunning detective work. 

She eventually tracks the Talokanians to a specific beach, and from there is able to pick up the signal from Shuri's earrings. It's basically "find my iPhone" on steroids. Nakia infiltrates the Talokanian city and gets the drop on the two women guarding Shuri and Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne). The "guards" don't put up much of a fight. They seem less like soldiers and more like ladies-in-waiting. Nakia kills them without blinking. Does her gun not have a stun setting? Then again, Queen Ramonda told her to do whatever it takes. The second guard does manage to get behind Shuri and put a knife to her throat, but it's more of an idle threat and only delays Nakia briefly.

6. Wakanda vs. Talokan

Determined to get even after Namor kills Queen Ramonda, the newly Black Panther-ized Shuri puts all her best warriors on an enormous ship and drives it out into the middle of the ocean. They lure the Talokanians into a trap and use some kind of sonic wave to terrorize them into submission. It actually works, briefly, until the Talokanians bring all their might to bear, including whales, an enormous net of water bombs, and their winged god Namor. The ensuing battle plays like an MCU version of Avatar, with aquatic blue people clashing with grizzled human warriors. 

There's a lot going on in this scene. At one point, the Dora Milaje run down the ship's face to fight with the Talokanians climbing up. Ironheart briefly battles Namor in the skies and helps lure him into the trap Shuri has laid specially for him. Okoye rocks a new Midnight Angel getup, possibly marking her eventual elevation into true superhero status. Silly name aside (Midnight Angel is more than a bit reminiscent of Night Monkey), Okoye 2.0 wrecks shop and destroys Attuma in their rematch. If you'll forgive the pun, this prolonged fight feels like a watered-down version of far better ones we've gotten in films like "Infinity War" and even the first "Black Panther." It's colorful, briefly exciting, but mostly forgettable.

5. The Dora Milaje vs. the French military

The Dora Milaje are basically the greatest thing ever. They are like a cross between a biker gang and ninja ballerinas. They even come with their own theme song! By necessity, they are mostly background characters, but it's still a shame. The single best part of "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier" — apart from Nemo, obviously — was the Dora Milaje and their casual beatdown of Wyatt Russell's U.S. Agent. They even rattled Bucky's cage.

So it's perhaps fitting that the film's first fight scene belongs to these no-nonsense women. As Queen Ramonda speaks at a United Nations meeting, French military operatives crash a Wakandan outreach facility in an effort to get their hands on some of that sweet, sweet vibranium. They take the place by surprise and force the frazzled Wakandans to open the vault. Big mistake.

The Dora Milaje emerge from the shadows of the vault and completely wreck the French soldiers. It's over practically before it begins. To add injury to insult, the Dora Milaje escort the soldiers, all big, burly men, into the United Nations meeting. Queen Ramonda returns the soldiers to France as a sign of good faith, but really it's more like "c'mon, bro, you can't be serious." The Queen rocks a sleeveless ensemble that highlights her impressive guns (Angela Bassett got seriously yolked, y'all), and frankly, it wouldn't have been out of place if she'd emerged from the vault, too.

4. Wakanda invaded

The shoe that has been hanging over Wakanda since Namor easily infiltrated finally drops when the Talokanians invade. The scene starts with the same creepy vibe as when the Talokanians attacked the American ship. We don't see them at first but we know something is amiss when water slowly floods Wakandan streets. Much like in "Jaws," the Talokanians are scariest when we don't see them. Maybe because they look like waterlogged Smurfs?

The sea people use their siren song to lure Wakandans into the water, an effective if cheap, anti-climatic maneuver. The Wakandans knew they were coming and mount a counter-offensive that isn't all that effective, despite their technological superiority. M'Baku (Winston Duke) finally gets his crack at the "fish man," leaping at Namor from behind. Namor's punch shatters M'Baku's breastplate and sends him flying 50 feet in the opposite direction. It's a fitting metaphor for Wakanda as a whole; they get beaten down badly on their home turf. We're less impressed with Talokan than we are disappointed with Wakanda.

3. Black Panther vs. Namor

Black Panther returns, finally giving Wakanda someone in Namor's weight class. But although Black Panther can go toe-to-toe with Namor, it is Shuri's brain that puts her in a position to beat the so-called feathered serpent god. She realizes that Namor draws his strength from the water and contrives a trap, basically turning the inside of a Wakandan airship into a toaster oven. Namor panics over this new dried-out feeling and starts slicing through the hull with his vibranium spear, prompting Shuri to send the ship into the desert with all speed. The ship comes apart in a shower of parts and careens into the sand.

What follows is a knock-down-drag-out fight. No punches are pulled and no quarter is given. Namor eventually runs Shuri through with his spear, pinning her to a rock, and then goes stumbling off toward the sea. Shuri snaps the spear in half and pulls herself off the broken end. It looks really painful, even for a superhero. She interposes herself between Namor and his life-giving water, and then she goes all dark side on him, giving in to her hate and driving him to the ground. She gets a blade on his throat and is one twitch away from taking his head off, but realizes this isn't who she wants to be and relents. She won both the inner and outer battle and emerges from the fight as a true superhero.

2. Talokanians vs. United States operatives

The first Talokanian scene is their best. A United States freighter overflowing with Navy Seals believes they have discovered a vibranium lode in the middle of the ocean. They do what anyone would do in and call in the fabulous Lake Bell, aka Dr. Graham, to suss out the situation. Dr. Graham supervises as a pair of scientists descends into the depths via personal submersible suits. It's all very "The Abyss." Dark, haunting, and incredibly claustrophobic, before an unseen something plucks away the divers, but not before one of them screams in terror.

About this time, figures start surfacing on the ocean. They draw near the ship and begin to sing. It's a siren song, luring everyone overboard. Men step off the boat and plunge feet-first to their own watery graves. Dr. Graham pops in earplugs, draws a sidearm, and goes for a look. It's at this point that we get our first glimpse of the Talokanians as they nimbly scale the side of the ship. They resemble humans but only just, seeming more like aliens from another dimension entirely.

The Seal Commander escorting Dr. Graham is quickly skewered by a spear. Dr. Graham leads a chase across the ship, dropping several Talokanians with her pistol — can we get this woman her own show, please? — as she tries to get to the chopper. The helicopter escapes but victory is snatched away when a mysterious man flying about in a speedo spins the chopper like a record.

1. Okoye vs. the Talokanians

This thrilling sequence starts with a nighttime vehicular chase as Okoye, Shuri, and Riri evade U.S. federal agents. It is reminiscent of the chase in "Black Panther" when Okoye and T'Challa pursue Klaue, and though this chase doesn't quite hit the same highs, it still gets the heart pumping. Director Ryan Coogler really knows how to film thrilling chases. 

Our heroes evade the feds and reunite on a long bridge and seem ready to ride off into the sunset — then the Talokanians arrive. Riri is pulled from the sky and their vehicles are destroyed by bombs that look like water balloons but pack quite a punch. Okoye crawls from the wreckage and finds the Talokanians waiting for her. They just want Riri, but Okoye isn't having that. She quickly takes out three of the Talokanians and steps to their big, broad-chested leader. Attuma (Alex Livinalli) seems to find this kind of funny. 

The two engage in a deadly duel with vibranium weapons. Though Attuma possesses superhuman strength, Okoye more than holds her own, making up the gap with finesse and cunning. At one point, Attuma plants his weapon in the concrete and pulls Okoye headfirst into it, like a clothesline finishing move from wrestling. Impossibly, Okoye gets up. This fight has the same close-quarters kinetic energy as the stellar fights from "Captain America: Winter Soldier." It only ends when one of those water bombs literally knocks Okoye off her feet, throwing her into the ocean below. This amazing fight is easily the top one in the film and one of the best in the MCU.