Random Thoughts on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Thoughts in no particular order but grouped thematically. Spoiler warnings in effect!

IMDB Wakanda Forever Wright Huerta Underwater

Characters

Erik’s thoughts:

  • Angela Basset as Queen Ramonda gives a devastatingly powerful performance. She conveys so much grief, love, and determination with very spare acting choices. She commands the scene every time she is on screen.
  • One of the things I have always appreciated about the world of Black Panther is how much room it makes for characters to listen, learn, and grow. We saw it with T’Challa and Nakia in the first movie; here Shuri and M’Baku show it best.
  • Another wonderful thing about Black Panther has been how much room the movies make for women to have stories that aren’t about relationships—romantic or familial—with men. T’Challa’s death naturally hangs heavily over Wakanda Forever, but the movie also balances that with incredibly important relationships among women.

Eppu’s thoughts:

  • Tenoch Huerta was great as an all-powerful, unhinged Namor. He rotated through cracked, creepy, companionable, and perhaps even a little lonely. (After all, we didn’t see him connect with anyone else other than Shuri.) The way he tried to physically intimidate Ramonda by leaning way, way, WAY too close during their beach conversation still gives me the chills.
  • LOVED the amount of women again: women with real agency, and lives and goals of their own. Like real people, imagine that! (Well, perhaps not Director de Fontaine—she smells like a future baddie, and a hammy one at that like Rumlow / Crossbones was—but to be fair we didn’t see much of her yet.)
  • I knew to expect tributes to Chadwick Boseman, but wouldn’t have guessed how much there was. And the opening credit where the letters spelling Marvel Studios were all filled with images of T’Challa—that was perfect. The usual Marvel theme would’ve sounded garish, too. RIP.

Story

Eppu’s thoughts:

  • I found that the pacing worked for me; I didn’t feel bored nor overwhelmed. It was really nice that the characters were given time to process, to just sit for a bit instead of rushing headlong at a breakneck speed. (I’ve long loathed the old rule of there-must-be-an-action-scene-every-7-minutes or whatever; that means you don’t have a story strong enough to hold the audience’s attention.)
  • It was really nice that Ramonda and Shuri had a moment when they left their high tech behind and just sat in the bush at a campfire, talking. It felt true—we Finns certainly detach from the city life and go enjoy nature from time to time.

Erik’s thoughts:

  • The movie felt like it was pulled in too may different directions. It was strongest when it stayed focused on Shuri and her relationships with her mother and the memory of her brother. Riri Williams was fun, but felt like a distraction from Shuri’s story and didn’t have enough time or focus to develop on her own. Nakia’s story was underdeveloped. Everett Ross and Director De Fontaine felt like they had wandered onto the wrong set while filming something else.
  • There is a beautiful echoing of T’Challa’s story in Civil War. Like T’Challa before her, Shuri’s early days as Black Panther are driven by grief and anger as she turns outward the rage and self-hatred that she feels for failing to save the life of someone she loved. T’Challa ultimately learned that revenge is self-destructive by watching Tony Stark and Steve Rogers fight. Shuri arrives at the same point after seeing the spirit of Killmonger, fighting Namor, and hearing her mother’s voice one last time.

Visuals

Erik’s thoughts:

  • Talokan is beautifully designed. It doesn’t look like a surface city built underwater but like a place built by and for people who live and think in three dimensions.
  • I love getting to go back to Wakanda and see more of the visual design. From clothing to technology to architecture, there is so much to see, so many layers and textures.

Eppu’s thoughts:

  • Superhero movies have a tendency for really flashy environments, so I was surprised how, well, watery they made the Talokan design. It felt more realistic (like The Abyss) instead of ostentatious (like Aquaman).
  • I loved seeing so much of Mesoamerican designs and colors! Granted, it’s not my strong suit, but it looked authentic enough.

Concepts

Eppu’s thoughts:

  • Shuri’s bucking against the traditions felt completely in character, and her coming round didn’t feel rushed. (For once—in my experience, mainstream movies and tv series have a tendency to rush the reversal, while artsy movies wallow in it.)
  • It was fantastic to have so many languages on screen! I don’t care that I don’t know them all—although it is very neat when I do, don’t get me wrong—because the main thing is it’s showing an international world, not just telling us the characters live in one. (Captain America: The First Avenger, I’m looking at you and the horrible fake German accent you gave poor Hugo Weaving and Toby Jones to do.)
  • The ship battle at the end was a disappointment, given how awesomely it started (the Dora Milaje jumping over the side supported by Jabari). You could argue that the sloppy Wakandan preparation is due to not having had fair fights in a long time, but Shuri at least used to care about the lives of her fellow citizens. It’s like she dragged people off to a suicide mission. Then, when the Wakandans decided to leave, no-one though to look down the sides of the Sea Leopard, or to safeguard their sonic weapon pointing underwater? Smacks of more arrogance.

Erik’s thoughts:

  • There is a long history in pseudoarchaeology circles of using the idea of a lost civilization as a way of denying the creativity of indigenous peoples. In particular, claims that Mesoamerican cultures were founded or taught by visitors from Atlantis are part of a narrative that feeds into white supremacism. I was worried about what we would see in this movie, but I’m happy that they turned that narrative around: Talokan was not a lost civilization from which the Maya drew their culture but a new civilization created by Mayan people themselves in response to the horror of colonization. I’m also glad that the name “Atlantis” was never even mentioned.
  • I wish we had gotten a standalone Talokan movie before this one. If this movie didn’t have to do the work of introducing us to Talokan and Namor, it would have had more time to develop its other elements and characters.
  • We’ve been rewatching some older Marvel movies lately. It’s interesting to see how the end credits scene has evolved from an Easter egg to a marketing ploy for upcoming movies to a chance for comic relief to an integral part of the storytelling.

Nitpicks

Erik’s thoughts:

  • Talokan was really dark. Realistic for a deep underwater city, but frustrating in a visual medium.
  • Ms. CIA bugged Shuri’s kimoyo beads? Really? Where did she get the technology to do that?
  • Why did we never see the Wakandans trying to rip off the Talokanis’ water breathing masks when fighting in air? That seems like such an obvious vulnerability to attack, especially when they’ve already talked about trying to dry out Namor.

Eppu’s thoughts:

  • Just the one stinger? Come on!
  • It seriously rubs me the wrong way how many people mispronounced Namor’s name. Even Shuri did it right after he told her the name’s origins and she had the chance to hear it. Nay, it’s not NAY-more. Na-MOR. (You don’t even have to speak Spanish to get it right; compare to the first vowel and stress in a-LIVE.)
  • Everett Ross and the CIA infighting felt disconnected, yes, but I did appreciate knowing what’s happened to him. Clearly Marvel is laying the groundwork for something here. (Reminds me of that random stinger with one of Zeus’ sons being given a mission of some kind at the end of Thor: Love and Thunder.)

Image via IMDB

In Seen on Screen, we discuss movies and television shows of interest.

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Namor Featurette for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

The U.S. release day for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is tomorrow! To keep the hype up, Marvel has published a short featurette on Namor:

Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever | Namor by Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

Looks cool, even if it tells me less than I’d like. (If I ever read any comics with Namor as a kid, I’ve blissfully forgotten.) It does look like Angela Bassett’s Queen Ramonda has a larger part to play in BP:WF. That’s great; I’ve liked her a lot ever since I saw her in Strange Days. (OMG, that was in 1995!)

We two are really busy right now, but if lucky, we might be able to slip in to see BP:WF already today. (For some weird reason, in Finland the release of large international productions often happens a few days before the American one.) Definitely some time during the opening weekend, though!

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The Second Trailer for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

The second official and likely final trailer for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is now out:

Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever | Official Trailer by Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

(Phew! I’m growing quite disillusioned with the current fad of making splashy trailers that tell you very little about the story. The cutting is fast, action even faster, and if anything is revealed of the characters it’s piecemeal or prosaic, reducing the characters to a gimmic each. But I digress.)

We do get a little more tidbits in this second trailer. Looks like Wakanda is attacked, but at least I can’t tell if it’s random western soldiers or Namor’s troops. (Or both???) A new character to me is Riri Williams / Ironheart. She’s wearing some sort of a power suit based on the Iron Man suit—which means that the two people in the world wearing those kinds of suits are both black, doesn’t it? Cool!

The former Queen Ramonda seems to be at the U.N. (approx. at the 1:23 mark), but what is she arguing for? Attacking Atlantis??? Finally, we do see the new Black Panther jump from a great height and land (with the kinetic energy of the fall being stored in the suit, of course). Clearly it’s a female figure—Shuri, from the general shape, maybe? And was that Nakia I saw with gorgeous, long hair?

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever releases on November 11, 2022. So soon! 🙂

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Epic Mashup: Captain R2-D2

We all know interesting mashups of genre characters, but this R2-D2 / Captain America mashup really takes the cake:

Twitter Daniel_Logan R2-D2 Captain America Mashup

When you think about it, R2-D2 is very like the Cap: starts small (although R2 never gets larger), doesn’t talk all that much, embodies persistence, can often jury-rig vehicles, kicks (space) Nazi butt, and despite modest beginnings turns out to be one of the most competent characters in the story. I’m all in with this one, LOL!

Image via Daniel_Logan on Twitter.

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Trailer for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

The first official trailer for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has now been out for a few weeks:

Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever | Official Teaser by Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

OMG, what a different choice of music for the trailer—at first just a neat, atypical choice, then getting more and more sinister when juxtaposed with the imagery. Brr!

The underwater events and Mesoamericans scenes completely took me by surprise. (Seems surprisingly similar to the Avatar sequel about to be released this year, doesn’t it, or am I the only one to make the connection?) Looks awesome, though, and has so much potential for very inventive storytelling.

On the other hand, the tribute to Chadwick Boseman I did expect—or would’ve been surprised to see omitted. RIP; the world lost a huge talent.

Director and co-writer Ryan Coogler did such a fantastic job with the first Black Panther that I’ve no doubt that this sequel will be amazing. (Finally, FINALLY, there are A LOT of serious, powerful, purposeful roles for women!) I can’t wait!

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Trailers for She-Hulk: Attorney at Law

Goodness, Disney+ is really churning out series this year! Among the upcoming releases is She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. Here are the two official trailers:

Official Trailer | She-Hulk: Attorney at Law | Disney+ by Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

Official Trailer | She-Hulk: Attorney at Law | Disney+ by Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

I have no doubt Tatiana Maslany is going to be great, and it’s always nice to see Mark Ruffalo get screentime. Also Benedict Wong and Tim Roth (Abomination) will at least visit, but of course at this point it’s impossible to know how big their parts will be. I am also curious to see what Jameela Jamil can do with a role that isn’t ditsy and/or superficial. (At least I’m hoping that her role here won’t be a rehash of her role in The Good Place!)

At this writing, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is set to premiere on August 17, 2022.

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Official Trailer for Thor: Love and Thunder

Thor rambles on in Thor: Love and Thunder, this time partnered with another deity capable of throwing lightning around:

Marvel Studios’ Thor: Love and Thunder | Official Trailer by Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

Jane Foster wielding Mjölnir will be something to see! I have no idea of the comic book storylines, so I can’t say how the tidbits we see compare to those—I have literally no idea—but the main antagonist, Gorr, seems musty and uninspired. We’ll see if that’s just that trailers always lie.

I do find the realm with a fancy, floating (although quite open) city interesting, and all of the other sets, props, costumes, and effects are handsome, as usual. Since this is another Thor movie co-written and directed by Taika Waititi, I’m inclined to see it in the theater.

Thor: Love and Thunder is set to debut on July 08, 2022, in the U.S.

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Second Trailer for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

The release date for the next movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is approaching. Here is the second official trailer for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness:

Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness | Official Trailer by Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

To me, the creepiest thing in the trailer is the mention of a repeating dream Strange says he’s having. Brr, merely the thought is hair-raising. (Not to mention that I can’t even think of the kinds of nightmares you might have if your reality had shifted to a multiverse of possibilities. Anyway.) Apparently MoM is the first MCU film to be released under the horror genre, so that sounds appropriate.

The trailer looks as astounding as all of the MCU movies do; indeed, technical accomplishments have never been Marvel’s weakness. Where it might fall is the story. I don’t recognize the writing team for MoM at all: Michael Waldron (who’s apparently written the Loki series) and Jade Halley Bartlett (with a total of four credits to her name in IMDB).

Another aspect I’m completely ignorant of is superhero America Chavez, played in MoM by Xochitl Gomez, who will be introduced in this film. I’ve sometimes wondered whether I’d be enjoying the MCU more had I read Marvel’s superhero comics as a kid instead of the mutant ones, but it hasn’t been a big deal so far. In phase four, however, as the stories are moving further away from the biggest names and most popular heroes, it might make a difference.

I’m also ambivalent towards the director Sam Raimi. His Spider-Man trilogy certainly faded from my memory soon enough. MoM is also Raimi’s first film in nine years. I have to wonder whether directing is like riding a bicycle—will he be able to handle the reins of a massive production again?

Apparently the events will also tie in with the series Loki and WandaVision. As I haven’t seen either, I hope any links will be clear enough anyway. I guess we will see. It’ll surely be nice to see more of Wong (Benedict Wong) and Dr. Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams).

The release day for MoM is still listed as May 06, 2022.

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First Trailer for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Marvel Cinematic Universe’s next installment, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, has its first trailer out.

Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness | Official Teaser by Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

Due to pandemic restrictions and some bad luck, we still haven’t seen Spider-Man: No Way Home, so I don’t yet know what relevance, if any, Peter Parker and Doctor Strange’s shenanigans in that movie might have to Strange’s second solo adventure.

(Come to think of it, I completely missed posting the trailers for No Way Home. For my information, here are links to the first official NWH trailer and the second official NWH trailer.)

Strange has never been one of my favorite characters, and so far this trailer doesn’t remedy that. We do see a number of repeat performances by supporting characters (Wong, Mordo, Dr. Christine Palmer; Doctor Octopus, Green Goblin) and a few tantalizing glimpses of entirely new acquaintances. The inclusion of Wanda Maximoff was a pleasant surprise; I hope we’ll see as much of her as possible.

At this writing, MoM is set to release on May 06, 2022.

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Mashup of Themes from Avengers and The Lord of the Rings

Perfection can be improved on occasion. Bearing witness is this inventive mashup of various themes from The Lord of the Rings by Howard Shore and the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Avengers by Alan Silvestri:

The Lord of The Rings X Avengers EPIC ORCHESTRAL MASHUP by Samuel Kim Music on YouTube

The mashup was arranged and orchestrated by Samuel Kim. I don’t have enough formal musical education to tell you why it works—both movie scores certainly are epic enough—I just know it does. 🙂 Kudos!

An occasional feature on music and sound-related notions.