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Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

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“This place is amazing. The air is pristine, and the water... My mother told me stories about a place like this, a protected land with people who never have to leave, who never have to change who they were. What reason do you have to reveal your secret to the world?” Namor (Tenoch Huerta)

Aztec-like Namor rules the prosperous underwater kingdom, Talokan, but is impressed by the thriving African nation, Wakanda, both nations having their secret wealth tied to a powerful ore, vibranium. As in the case of gold in other African nations, they need to protect their wealth. Yet, Wakanda has lost a wealth far greater, their deceased King T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman).

Writer/director Ryan Coogler (with co-writer Jake Robert Cole), nurses the melancholy of regret to make another blockbuster addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe that deals with mortality seriously, not casually, as the usual case. With Namor’s Latin resemblance, Wakanda Forever also gently extends the Universe.

In Wakanda Forever. as he did in Black Panther, Coogler crafts a memorable mythology with sterling actors, gorgeous sets, and colorful costumes. This sequel thrives, despite the tragic loss of Boseman, because it depicts an essentially good people (think the USA) peaceful until roused to national fervor protecting their natural resources and their pride.

In the background lies the African history of exploitation and colonial slavery. Wakanda could have been real if not for those barbarians. The best exemplar of the proud fictional nation is its matriarch, Ramonda (Angela Basset), who would rift a loyal general and friend for a battle screwup.

The real future of Wakanda is Shuri (Letitia Wright, the late King’s sister), whose braininess and boldness promise the “Forever” of the title. Because she is modern and openminded, she can dance the diplomacy dance nimbly, especially with the confounding complications of the underwater kingdom. Wakanda Forever’s universal tough love promises we will have many more confrontations with countries and personal ambitions. Kiss the dominating explosions of your typical superhero adventure goodbye in favor of dialogue that explodes with meaning.

“Only the most broken people can be great leaders.” Namor