Marvel returns to form with “Wakanda Forever”

The Marvel Cinematic Universe, also known as the MCU, has had some high highs—think “Avengers,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and “Spider-Man.” Lately, however, I’ve noticed a drop in quality with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

Unfocused plots, inconsistent tones, and poor CGI are problems seen throughout multiple recent MCU projects. Personally, I think these issues are most apparent in “Thor: Love and Thunder” and “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.”  

After watching those projects, I began to worry that the MCU, one of my favorite franchises, was going downhill. 

However, I was relieved after watching “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” which was released on Friday, Nov. 11. 

In my opinion, the movie doesn’t have the problems I mentioned earlier—at least, not to the extent of other recent MCU entries. 

I found the movie’s plot to be very focused, despite the script being quickly rewritten after the passing of Black Panther actor Chadwick Boseman. 

The plot of “Wakanda Forever,” unlike the plot of “Love and Thunder,” doesn’t wander all over the place thanks to two clear and central conflicts. 

The first conflict is an external one between two powerful nations: Wakanda, which is home to our heroes, and Talokan, an underwater land where the villains dwell.  

Talokan is ruled by Namor, a king who will do anything for the good of his people.  

The second conflict is an internal one that Shuri, the princess of Wakanda, has to deal with. 

After her brother’s death, Shuri must learn to step up and become Wakanda’s new protector— but will she give into her grief and become a vengeful protector, or a forgiving one? 

Tone has been another issue with Marvel movies lately.  

“Thor: Love and Thunder” couldn’t decide if it wanted to be a drama or a comedy, and at the end of the day, I didn’t find it dramatic or funny.  

From the very first scene of “Wakanda Forever,” the movie is clearly a drama. The movie deals with serious subjects such as death, grief, and vengeance, and it deals with them in a serious and thoughtful way.  

But this doesn’t mean the movie is 100 percent serious: there is some well-placed humor throughout to alleviate the tension. Yet the humor doesn’t feel forced, and it doesn’t detract from the drama like it did in “Love and Thunder.” 

Lastly, the CGI has looked off in many recent Marvel projects, and it always ruins the immersion of the show or movie. The special effects in “She-Hulk” were especially hard to watch, which is unfortunate when the protagonist is completely CGI for most of the show.  

However, the special effects in “Wakanda Forever” looked great for the most part. I was especially impressed with the CGI whales that the people of Talokan ride.  

On the other hand, there were still a few effects that could’ve been better.  

For example, towards the end of the movie, a character wears an Iron Man-inspired suit that looks quite cartoonish. Iron Man’s suit looked amazing in his first appearance back in 2008, so I don’t understand why Marvel can’t make a similar suit look as amazing in 2022.  

Despite the minor critique, I think “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is one of the best outings by Marvel in a while. If upcoming MCU releases are as well-made as this one, the future of the series may not be as grim as I thought.