Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

A Story of Moving Past Loss

Matthew Campoverde ‘24

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was the final movie of Marvel’s Phase 4 of the MCU, and it surely didn’t disappoint. When I went to see the movie with the school on November 11, I didn’t just enjoy myself because I went with my friends but also because the movie was quite the grand experience as well. It had a significant run time of about 2 hours and 30 minutes, which allowed it to deeply explore the message it wanted to convey and display the intricacies of its characters and the stories it wanted to tell. 

Loss and Closure

The movie’s central theme is the impact of loss and how one moves past it. This issue is primarily explored in the film through a chain of deaths, the passing of King T’Challa. The passing of Chadwick Boseman was truly a tragedy, and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is able to give a final sendoff to the actor and the character he played by resonating the loss of the actor in the real world to the emotions of those who lost T’Challa in the movie. Although the whole movie revolves around this, the initial act of the film truly explores the pain of loss and how people take steps towards confronting it, which can be seen through the characters of Shuri and Queen Ramonda. Additionally, this theme of loss is also explored through the character of Namor as a major driving force of his actions. 

Queen Ramonda

(L-R): Dorothy Steel as Merchant Tribe Elder, Florence Kasumba as Ayo, Angela Bassett as Ramonda, Danai Gurira as Okoye in Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2022 MARVEL.

After the death of her son, Queen Ramonda was thrusted into leading her nation without its protector, the Black Panther. While foreign countries and other threats tried to exploit Wakanda’s situation of losing T’Challa, she stood firm in the midst of all this and worked to ensure the safety of her nation. Despite all this, she was still able to move forward from the death of her son, which can be shown through her attempts to help Shuri do the same. Even with the pressure of a weakening Wakanda and countless new issues arising, Ramonda still was able to confront the death of her son head on and move past her grief. She was able to do this through the calm and closure she gained through interactions with nature and holding T’Challa dear in her heart. This closure can be symbolized through the burning of her funeral garments to show how she has accepted T’Challa’s death.

Because of her acceptance and confrontation of his passing, she is able to deal with the affairs that face Wakanda, for the most part, during the 1 year time period until the threat of Namor arises. When Shuri goes missing, she is forced to come to face with feelings regarding T’Challa’s passing once more due to the concern she has for Shuri’s well being when faced with Namor. This prompts her to send Nakia to rescue Shuri and Riri, which causes Namor to wage war on Wakanda due to the deception of Ramonda and the harm Nakia caused on his people. This causes Namor to wage an attack on Wakanda directly, destroying a major part of the main city. In this crisis, Ramonda once again holds her ground and works to ensure the safety of her people. Sadly, she dies at the hands of Namor, giving her life to save Riri from drowning.

Namor and Shuri

Namor also gives the audience a depiction of the effects of loss as well. At a young age, Namor lost his mother, which he tries to confront by fulfilling her wish of being buried on the land of her original home. He is able to go to the surface to bury her, but he suffers a loss of his innocence as a result of what he sees. Namor bears witness to the slavery and abuse towards the indigenous people that came with colonization. His pure and innocent view of the world morphs into one of disdain towards what lies on the surface. Thus, he takes shelter beneath the seas and vows to protect his people from the atrocities he witnessed. Namor is able to deal with his loss due to the determination and commitment he has towards his people. However, his desires to protect develop into something unhealthy when he decides to kill the people of the world to ensure the safety of his people. This is brought forth when Nakia kills his own people during her rescue mission of Shuri and Riri, leading him to go forward with his plan without hesitation.

At the start of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Shuri loses her own brother, blaming herself for his passing since she couldn’t be with him in his last moments nor help him during his suffering. For a whole year, she thrusts herself into her work to avoid confronting her own feelings regarding the matter. However, her feelings of pain resurface once again through the death of her own mother through Namor’s attack on Wakanda. Just like how she dealt with T’Challa’s death, Shuri throws herself back into her work since there’s nothing else she can do currently in the face of the threat Namor poses on not only Wakanda but the world. Working tirelessly to bring back the Black Panther, Shuri is able to recreate the necessary concoction that would allow her to achieve this. Once she becomes Black Panther through the incredible strength she gained, she decides to deal with her loss by striking back against Namor and getting revenge for the death of her mother and the harm he brought upon the people of Wakanda. 

Shuri’s Closure

The final act of the movie follows the great battle between Wakanda and Namor’s kingdom where both sides are engaged in a fearsome conflict. With help from Riri, Shuri is able to ensure a one-on-one confrontation with Namor to defeat him. Despite being weakened by a chamber that essentially dried him out, Namor is still able to overcome Shuri in a grueling fight of attrition. Through a final surprise attack, Shuri is able to defeat Namor and is faced with the perfect opportunity to take her revenge, which she so desperately wanted. However, just as she is about to take his life, she realizes that taking Namor’s life wouldn’t solve anything nor give her any true satisfaction. Instead, she makes peace with Namor and his people to resolve the issue rather than letting a real war between their nations come to fruition. Shuri is able to move past her loss through the final scene of the film where she burns her funeral garments, symbolizing how she has successfully confronted and moved past the feelings of T’Challa’s and Ramonda’s deaths. Moreover, the final step towards her closure comes from seeing Nakia’s and her brother’s son, seeing how the life of her brother remains in this world through his son.