B|Edigress: "Wakanda Forever" Imagines & Builds It
Correspondent Joel Brown takes a few moments to reflect on the the epitome of Black superhero story
Joel Brown | CLMI Fellow
Wakanda Forever is a film aside from anything else Marvel Studios has ever produced. It strikes your soul. It pulls on your values. It asks you where your heart truly stands. It is the epitome of Black superhero story.
What makes this movie great? What makes this movie shine like an (unexploited) African diamond? Is it the acting? Maybe it's the story? For me, it's the world-building and all those little things after. No one individual aspect makes this movie great. Because for an individual aspect to make this film great, it would be that the other fundamental parts don’t live up to the standard. So, if I said that I would be lying.
This film is not merely an homage to the great, late Chadwick Boseman. It is the grand continuation of the legacy that is the Black Panther. This movie tackles some of the hardest challenges that we as a younger, particularly Gen-Z Black community face.
I’ve seen no other film show me the emotion of vengeance through loss quite like this one. The concept of abandoning the wishes of our dearest departed because of hatred. Only to see what it will impart on those still left around you. Because when people believe they are alone, they abandon the community that wishes to support us at our weakest.
And that's exactly what this story presented. Our main protagonist clings to a vile substance called hatred. Coated in sweet vengeance all because they think it's justice. Instead what we’re bearing witness to is the erosion of ourselves. All in the effort to fill the hole that our trauma has made. Through that process, it inflicts greater pain on those around us. We learn that greatness and hatred cannot co-exist. That to attempt to hold on to this vile anger would be to blind yourself from the world. For the consequences of such actions would cause irreversible harm.
But what is the hurt and trauma that does this to Wakanda Forever’s characters? Loss, but not just loss of any kind: it is the loss of a brother. That at his final moments one character struggles as the smartest person in the world. Despite vast technology, she only imagines and fails to see his final breath.
Second is the loss of a mother. Not a quiet death, but one of principle, one of valor. We see how she stood and died for the protection of the innocent. She stood on just actions for the protection of her people and her family. She died a hero to her nation and its people. All of that given way to her daughter who must now choose what will drive her, while caught in the moments of grieving both her mother and her brother. This all leads to a rather fundamental decision in her life. She’ll be dragged by vengeance and blinded by its hatred. Doomed to its destructive cycle of pain and death.
Or: perhaps she will be empowered by their sacrifice. Using it to embolden her, to push her forward into a brighter tomorrow. That the atrocities of yesterday don't have to be carried over into tomorrow. That although we may be entitled to an endless war over our pain, it does not mean we should pursue it.
There is an understanding in Wakanda Forever that it's not just our actions that define our destiny. Why do we choose to do the things we do? The act of taking a life isn't the only part that shapes certain characters. It's when, for example, Shuri offers peace, but is willing to kill if he denies the mercy offered. That shows the maturity from princess to queen.
She brings the very man that killed her mother and offers him peace, because she sees what more death will bring. At this moment she learns the hardest strength that her mother and brother learned. Shuri learned how to stand in the face of her most hated enemy and put it aside. She didn’t forget it - she simply cast it aside for a greater good and another force that wouldn’t dictate her life. She also made peace with an enemy to empower and unite her people.
All of this combined with the brilliant performance-of-a-lifetime from this cast. Coupled with a brilliant awe-inspiring world to push the boundaries of our imaginations. Because if we can imagine it, perhaps the next generation can build it. If you haven't seen it, take a few hours in your day to make the journey.