Wakanda Forever reactions are in, and it's "very different" to Black Panther

Black Panther Wakanda Forever characters from the poster
(Image credit: Disney)

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”.

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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.

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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.

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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”.

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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.

Henry St Leger

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.