Right off the bat, lemme tell you - I loved the movie. So good. We all knew what to expect coming into Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, but I was surprised how often I was surprised. First, the biggest obstacle to overcome was how to deal with the death of Chadwick Boseman - obviously - that wouldn't wreck the direction of the franchise, the Marvel Universe and the legacy of the character. I feel they pulled it off masterfully by reframing the movie about the legacy loved ones leave behind and how the world moves on after someone passes. The film had an emotional core and huge stakes from the start.
The focus of the film is turned to the incredible mostly female support team of the Black Panther, lead by his sister Shuri, General Okoyoe, Queen Romonda, Dora Milaje, and newcomer Riri Williams. The film is able to capture two phemonmal aspects of all these characters - how women deal with grief (by getting to work) and their strength amongst their family. Adding to that the fight scenes are incredible and really showcase the skills of each one of their characters. In interviews it's said Namor, the main protagonist of the film is "as strong as the Hulk & Thor" (I cannot wait to see that fight.), so the fact these characters can hold their own against him is impressive.
Wakanda Forever covers the subject of loss exceptionally well. The script was complete when Chadwick Boseman died, and the entire thing had to be re-written to figure out how to make Shuri the center of the film. They play up the angle of Shuri & the Queen exuding the feeling of "I'm not supposed to be here." If you've ever lost someone and had to step in to fill their shoes - you know how that feels, the weight of it. The movie drips with those emotions and make the actions of the characters feel heavy and pained.
Let's talk about Namor. What a great direction they took with him... Known as K’ul’ku’kan, “the feathered serpent god,” he isn’t from Atlantis, but from Talokan - don't worry it's also an undersea kingdom. I won't ruin the spoiler but pay attention how he gains the name "Namor" - it's genius. I play so much wordle I'm ashamed to admit I never would have thought of that in a million years. In the comics he's portrayed as white man from Atlantis with oddly enough Asian characteristics. Bit of comic book history here - Namor was supposed to be South East Asian but Marvel could not get the coloring correct back in the late 30's when he premiered. Asian villains at the time were cartoonishly yellow (some would accurately say it was just straight up racist.), and because Namor was a hero he could not be the same color as the villain, so they made him white. As coloring techniques changed in later years they didn't change it for some reason. Oddly enough it's actually a similar problem they had when T'Challa made his first appearance in Fantastic Four #52. Marvel could not accurately color black skin so he came off more gray than anything else. It also took them the better part of a decade to figure that one out. Anyhow, framing Namor as the leader of a MesoAmerican culture puts Talokan and Wakanda on similar footing. Historically, African and Latin American countries have been exploited for their resources by European Countries for centuries. The movie begins with Wakanda addressing the UN about piracy attempts of their virbranium, so when Namor arrives on the scene you can understand why he would think they might be natural allies.
Lastly As a white man who's read comics for the last 30 years, I have very definitive ideas of what these classic heroes should look like and how comic accurate they could appear in the movies. But that nostalgia I have can't compare to knowing young children of color see themselves in these characters. That's why these movies, and other like them (I'm waving at you Ariel) are so important. Allowing other members of our community to see themselves as the hero and not the villain is important. It's necessary. It's fair. And, it's long past due.