Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has finally premiered, and the first fleet of reactions are now swarming over our social media feeds like a vibranium nanite super-suit.
The embargo for a full review of the movie isn’t for another week (November 8), but attendees were able to tweet some initial, spoiler-free impressions that start to give a picture of how the hugely anticipated Black Panther sequel has fared.
Wakanda Forever picks up the story after the end of 2018’s Black Panther, seeing the afro-futurist community of Wakanda in conflict with the undersea nation of Talokan, led by king Namor. We know the film also debuts Dominique Thorne as Riri Williams, also known as Ironheart – an MIT student who creates an Iron Man-esque suit of armor – alongside returning roles for Letitia Wright (Shuri) and Lupita Nyong’o (Nakia).
A sequel was surely a daunting task, given the immense popularity of the first Black Panther film, as well as the glaring absence of former lead Chadwick Boseman – who tragically passed away in 2020. The sequel does appear to pay tribute to Boseman’s legacy, while you can see director Ryan Coogler wearing a commemorative chain to honor the late actor on the red carpet.
So with a truly star-studded cast, musical contributions from Rihanna, and the weight of expectations on this film’s shoulders, how did it fare?
She-Hulk actress Jameela Jamil went all-caps in her praise for Wakanda Forever, calling it “UNBELIEVABLY GOOD [...] ACTION, SCENERY AND COSTUMES TO DIE FOR”.
GO AND SEE BLACK PANTHER IT IS FUCKING UNBELIEVABLY GOOD. PREMIERE WAS A VIBE. LETITIA WRIGHT DESERVES ALL THE GOOD SHIT. WILDLY TALENTED CAST AND CREW. ACTION, SCENERY AND COSTUMES TO DIE FOR. #WakandaForever pic.twitter.com/5CxppAbPrMOctober 27, 2022
Host of Comicbook.com’s Marvel podcast Phase Zero, Brandon Davis, called the movie “epic, especially in scope” – while adding in a later comment that Wakanda Forever and 2018’s Black Panther are “VERY different movies”, making comparison difficult.
#BlackPanther #WakandaForever is epic, especially in scope.Namor is one of the better villains the MCU has had to offer. Tenoch Huerta just kills it!Emotions are heavy. Ryan Coogler ups his game on the action. It’s a lot to take in, balance so much, and is powerfully good. pic.twitter.com/NYxk1UvTYzOctober 27, 2022
Film critic Elijah Boxhill points to the impact that Letitia Wright has had on the film – seeing her fill the space left by Boseman’s T’Challa is certain to give the film a different feel.
#WakandaForever is PERFECT! Even with the heart-wrenching weight that it had to carry on its back, Black Panther 2 executes in making one of the most memorable Marvel films ever. Letitia Wright’s impact on this film is still has me still shaken up a bit, (1/3) pic.twitter.com/Agsf041VjGOctober 27, 2022
Film critic Fico Cangiano calls it “a soulful, wondrous sequel that packs an emotional punch & effectively explores relevant world themes.” Meanwhile, Ghanian singer Amaarae said it's “truly an amazing movie”.
Film critic Orlando Enelcine calls Black Panther the “crown jewel” of the MCU, with the sequel offering “some of the best acting I’ve seen all year.”
Actor Matt Ramos wasn’t quite as complimentary, calling Wakanda Forever “a step down from the first film”, adding that “there’s a lot that just didn’t sit right with me that I can’t explain without getting into spoilers”.
#WakandaForever is a definitely a step down from the first film. It has great qualities in Letitia’s performance, NAMOR & the action but there’s a lot that just didn’t sit right with me that I can’t explain without getting into spoilers. I’ll explain more once the film comes out.October 27, 2022
There’s definitely a tendency with social media impressions to be fleeting praise – it’s hard to justify criticism of a film when you can’t immediately back your argument up with further descriptions, and the purpose of companies allowing these tweets is largely to help stoke up online chatter around a film.
So, we expect a fuller picture to emerge when the film opens to the public, and reviewers can thoroughly have their say – but if there’s any common thread in these reactions so far, it’s that Wakanda Forever feels like quite a different beast from the original, and we'll see whether fans of Black Panther feel split on the result.
Certainly, the focus on the emotion and soulfulness means it might address some of James Cameron's (fair) criticism of Marvel's movies.
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Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.