MCU In Daughter Order – Wakanda Forever
My daughter and I will be watching Marvel Cinematic Universe media in whatever order she feels like. However, instead of the next movie we watched in our erratic order, we’re skipping ahead to the movie we watched this weekend: Black Panther – Wakanda Forever. I’ll hold out on spoilers until the second half of the article.
Our Progress So Far
As far as the blog is concerned, we’ve watched Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Iron Man 2, and Black Panther. We’ve actually been surprisingly productive*, however. In the month and a half since we started watching the MCU together, we’ve also watched a lot. Thor, Captain American: The First Avenger, the first Avengers, Captain Marvel, Iron Man 3, and Thor: The Dark World. Plus She-Hulk, which got her into the MCU to begin with.
Even though she’s almost a dozen movies into the series so far, she’s only seen one of Black Panther’s four MCU appearances before Wakanda Forever. And she wouldn’t be seeing the Black Panther, as she thinks of the character, in this, her first theatrical MCU experience.
*how you rate the productivity of watching movies may vary.
Concerns Going In
I had three concerns going into Wakanda Forever. I debated telling her about Chadwick Boseman ahead of time. In retrospect, I’m not sure why I didn’t. Especially because my second concern was that she’d talk the whole movie. When we watch MCU films, she asks questions nonstop. She needs reminders of what’s come before. She wants to know what happens next. And she wants to know every characters name, powers, and relationship to everything else.
Normally I love having these conversations with her. For Wakanda Forever, a movie I haven’t seen, I couldn’t tell her what was coming next. Plus, in my experience, theatre-goers don’t like when people talk during movies. When we saw the Aladdin remake, someone complained to the manager that my kids were singing along to the songs!
Finally, I worried about the length. At three hours, plus trailers, plus of course staying for the post credit scene, that’s at least twice as long as she’s ever sat still for a movie.
Spoiler Free Experience
Speaking of trailers, the movie started strangely for us. A trailer for Avatar: The Second Avatar ended, and then Wakanda Forever started. The theatre lights were still on, there was no Disney logo, it felt like a trailer for Wakanda Forever. If the content of the scene wasn’t so serious, I might have assumed it was a commercial using Wakanda Forever footage. Like when Batman drove up to a convenience store to buy a Diet Coke on my Batman 89 VHS. Even weirder, the lights turned off when the Marvel logo appeared.
Odd start to the film aside, we had a great time. However, my three concerns were variously justified.
Concern 1: The Death of Chadwick Boseman
Now, my daughter enjoys the humour of the MCU, but she also appreciates the drama. We’ll talk more about that when we get to my Iron Man 3 revisit, but she liked the movie despite being one of the more serious MCU entries. That said, as you might expect, Wakanda Forever is not Iron Man 3. It’s as emotionally raw as I’ve seen the MCU get. Not surprising, given it had to kill off the protagonist off-screen before the first scene, and why. Wakanda Forever’s first act serves as a eulogy for T’Challa and Chadwick Boseman. From what I’ve heard about Boseman, it’s no surprise the emotion on screen felt so real.
Not warning my daughter that T’Challa wouldn’t be in the movie was a mistake. And expecting her to sit quietly was foolish. As soon as the movie started, she asked “what’s happening?”, “He died‽“, and “did he really die?” That last one, she meant is it a classic fake death the MCU likes to throw around. When I told her he died in real life (not because his character died in the movie, I clarified), she contemplated it for the rest of Wakanda Forever. “I’m sorry the actor died,” she concluded.
Concern 2: Talking During The Movie
After Wakanda Forever’s opening, she got better at watching the movie quietly. It helped that I didn’t know where the movie was going. The majority of the questions she asked were after she heard me react, and she wanted to know why. Most of my answers were “I just love M’Baku. Everything he does makes me chuckle.
Concern 3: The Running Time
About two hours in, she mentioned needing to go to the bathroom. She said she could wait, but I doubt she knew how long she was promising to hold it. Shortly after, a montage started that. While amusing, it felt like the ideal time to leave for a few minutes. This ended up being an especially good decision because there’s a lot of water on screen in the last hour of Wakanda Forever.
We came back just in time for an important scene.
Final Spoiler Free Thoughts
I really enjoyed Wakanda Forever. That’s two Black Panther movies I’ve gone into without a lot of expectations that left me surprised and satisfied. Chadwick Boseman’s absence resonated, but as I mentioned in my Black Panther article, this brand’s support cast shines brighter than any other in the MCU. I didn’t even call out Angela Bassett last time, but shut up and give her an Oscar. Wakanda Forever’s focus character shifts a few times, and the scenes spotlighting the queen and what she’s gone through set this movie apart.
On the ride home, my daughter asked if we could see it again next weekend. I said no, obviously, but what an endorsement!
I went into Wakanda Forever expecting it to be about finding the Black Panther successor. Occasionally, I remembered that Namor was in the movie. I was surprised how resolved the Wakandans treated the idea that there wouldn’t be any more Black Panthers. Sure, Killmonger burned all of the heart-shaped herbs that granted the Black Panther powers, but this is an MCU movie. Iron Man 3 ends with Tony Stark blowing up his suits and retiring, a plot point the franchise barely acknowledges. Surely, there could be more the heart-shaped herbs.
There were. The movie even starts with Shuri synthesizing one. But the characters in Wakanda Forever treat her AI’s calculations about the unlikeliness of the synthesized herb as legitimate and not just movie math. And since the movies establish the dora milaje as premier martial combatants in the MCU, it’s not like Wakanda is Metropolis without Superman. They can take care of themselves.
What About Namor?
I’ve never cared for Namor. Maybe my tastes matured by now to appreciate the environmentalist antihero complexity of the character by now. Back when I read more Marvel, I rejected heroes who went on rampages like Namor. However, as Wakanda Forever’s antagonist, he filled the big shades of grey villain shoes Killmonger left after the first film.
Namor and his fellow Talokanil (the MCU swapped out Atlantis for Talokan) feel justified in their motivations enough to understand their actions, even if their tactics push ethical limits. The Talokan scenes aren’t nearly as interesting or emotional as the Wakanda scenes, but I think the link between the two nations elevates those scenes and moves the plot along nicely.
The Introduction of Ironheart
Another major plot point revolves around Riri Williams, who does use her armor but (unless I missed it on my bathroom break) doesn’t mention her fake name. I thought Dominique Thorne did a great job with not a lot, often hanging around in the background or being treated like a MacGuffin. At least she felt like a more faithful adaptation than America Chavez in Multiverse of Madness.
How’s Wakanda Doing?
Namor’s mid-movie invasion of Wakanda concerned me. As I said, I’d recently revisited Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World, two movies that take a chunk of out their setting. Now, you can blow up Tony Stark’s house and just give him another house. Asgard, on the other hand, never recovered from its gradual destruction and the culling of Thor’s support cast. There were hints that Wakanda Forever (ironically, given the title) might go in the same direction. Fortunately, Wakanda could recover from the damage it suffered. Hopefully the death of another important character isn’t a trend in future Black Panther movies.
On the subject of the attack on Wakanda, shout out to my man M’Baku! He continued to be surprisingly heroic in one of my favourite moments in the movie. In the first sign of the Talokanil attack, Namor dumps a couple of Wakanda fishers into the river. The movie could have left their fates uncertain, or even killed them off to raise the stakes. Instead, M’Baku springs into action and risks his life to safe characters that mean nothing to the audience, but matter to him. Filmmakers remembering the hero in super hero movies elevates my enjoyment 100% of the time.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: After Black Panther, we watched Thor.