Black Panther: Wakanda Forever! A Review by Fr. James DiLuzio

6 December 2022

I finally caught up with this latest Marvel endeavor, now in its 4th week of general release. The special effects are grand, the battle scenes exciting, but what struck me most about the movie was its unusual emphasis on character development and its strong thematic elements. 

WAKANDA FOREVER gives us time to breathe, to think, to feel. It doesn’t rush into its action sequences, although there are plenty of those. At its essence, the film calls forth empathy with minorities of all backgrounds oppressed by the past and in the present, continually anticipating advances of deceitful and greedy imperialistic nations. In this scenario, these nations are incarnated in none other than our own United States Government. Time to address the sins of our past, indeed! 

The minorities, however, represented by the African peoples of the Wakanda and the Latin peoples of an underwater world, are strong, valiant, advanced in science, technology, and wisdom, and refuse to become innocent victims. They have the willpower and the means to guard against American and European self-centered interests and aggression. Governments that put power, profit, and subjugation of peoples over common human decency are going to meet more than their match! Nevertheless, our Wakanda heroes and their potential allies under the sea, being fully human, are as prone to power’s temptations as much as anyone. Some confront the urge to adapt western annihilation techniques against their adversaries, others more freely embrace it. This conflict gives the movie its gravitas, as the Wakanda administration and its warriors wrestle between ethics and expediency, justice and revenge, future potential – or immediate gratification. As in a mirror, we, the audience, see the conflicts raging within our real 21st century world. Moreover, the screenwriters offer their characters and us the ultimate choice between two world visions. Which will we embrace? Transcendence through ritual, faith, and hope in a world comprised of all that is seen and unseen, or the existential views that insist on science and technology with no spiritual dimensions.  

I found the film’s direction, acting, cinematography, score and the like well-presented, but leave assessment of those details to the professional reviewers online and in the papers. For my part, I simply wanted to share with you what I appreciated most: WAKANDA FOREVER has a good story, interesting characters, and vital and important themes. With so many children these days not grounded in any religious tradition, Marvel and Disney has offered a tale that may keep our teens and young adults engaged in thoughts that really matter. Who is up for more conversation? 

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