Diary of a Mad Black DJ 217: "WAKANDA FOREVER"
The Black Femme Future is Her, I mean Here.
**Wakanda Forever Spoiler Alerts**
Beloved, if you have not seen the film, please skip this post expeditiously (in my Joe Clark voice). This is NOT the post for you, check this out instead
This journal contains spoilers, typos and probably misspelled words. LOL. I was rushing- re-edit coming soon. <3
I don’t know where to start. Leticia, Ryan, Queen Muva Angela, Dominique RiRi…Lupita? Michaela? Ruth Carter- the style gawdess, the research, the production, the design, those underwater scenes? Chiiiile? Let me start where the film started…
As a proud South Carolinian I cried through the beginning, end, and parts of the middle for Anderson, SC native Chadwick Boseman. Watching Shuri (and actress Letitia Wright) process every time T’Challa is mentioned on screen was beyond emotional. The amount of care and love that was given to each frame for his memory was not only needed but essential for the viewer, in my opinion.
My family and I attended the 7PM showing of Wakanda Forever to a packed theater in Columbia, SC, about an hour and some change from where Mr. Boseman was born. Patrons who failed to get their tickets in advance were visibly disappointed having been turned away. (I’ve been checking the theater since Friday for the sold out commemorative Wakanda Forever “vibranium” glowing popcorn tins, which are still sold out.) It felt so unreal that this film and this representation was here (again), so I need an actual relic to prove that this moment actually happened.
Ryan Coogler (whom I’ve been a fan of since Fruitvale Station )wrote a beautiful love letter to his artistic-brother and honored him in a way that no other creator could have captured. Our hero, our champion, our protagonist was still with us in this film. It was as if his spirit were watching over every character and every sequence, (with that beautiful smile that could light up the darkest parts of our realm).
While a few comic book heads are up in arms about this interpretation of Wakanda’s universe after T’Challa’s passing; I honestly think that this is a moment to grieve and celebrate the life of our beloved king before moving to the next chapter.
From the beginning sequence, Wakanda Forever gives us the amount of closure that we needed to make it through the film while still delivering the hero that we have all been waiting for.
Now, for my journal…I am not a movie critic. I didn’t go to film school, nor do I have professional artistic training. I am solely basing my rating on by Black Femme Future “barometer”. And with that in mind, this film receives: 5 Stars, 10/10, 100% ripe/rotten/whatever tomatoes from me; A+++. This is my official rating, and ‘Imma stick beside her’.
This isn’t a review, this is more of a list of observations and hidden gems that you may have noticed (or missed) during Wakanda Forever. I wouldn’t call them “easter eggs” but I will say that Wakanda Forever is filled with an endless amount of “keys” that speak to the amount of research and intention for one of the most important franchises in the MCU. Let’s just say everyone “knew the assignment”.
Black Folx finally face their fear of the water
I’m not sure if Coogler purposely meant to have water be an imperceptible villain in this story, but the thought of Wakanda being destroyed by water felt like an attack on not only the civilization but black folks in general. It is more folklore than actual fact, but yes, the stereotype of black folks having a fear of water is brought up all too often. (Could it be silent trauma from the Middle Passage; the flooding of black towns during the Reconstruction Era? I’m not sure.) What I will say is that water is a large part of the pillars of Afrofuturism and can represent erasure (destruction) or cleansing (baptisms). In Wakanda Forever, it gave me anxiety the entire time. ( As a black person that knows how to swim, that’s saying a lot.) Especially since the anti-hero was not only an expert in aquatic artillery, but clearly a god (or Kukulkan). Clearly that was amplified when Queen Ramonda passes. But I was excited to hear that not only the cast, but director Ryan Coogler as well, literally dove in and embraced the water elements
2. Latinx Representation and Diaspora Unification with Differentiation.
Talokan as Atlantis was probably my second favorite thing about this movie. Expanding Namor’s origin story beyond Atlantis to the MesoAmerican inspired underwater kingdom gave the film another level of depth (no pun). Reimagining a world for brown people that was also impenetrable by colonization added a familiar speculation but with differentiation. It was also a celebratory moment of representation to see various members of the Latinx and Indigenous communities represented. Both Mabel Cadena and Alex Livinalli's characters help bring Mesoamerican culture into the Marvel Cinematic Universe; not to mention, Mexican actor (of Indigenous heritage) Tenoch Huerta’s interpretation of Marvel’s first mutant (arguably) was not only epic but perfectly portrayed- I still don’t know if Namor is a villain or anti-hero or both. Lol. Needless to say, once again Ryan and his research team got it right!!!! What a huge moment for our Latinx brothers and sisters on the big screen. (PS Namora brought it, too, btw. When girlfriend went under water to sink the ship- she meant business!!!). Also seeing Lupita (Nakia) nail Spanish the same way she nailed the Korean lines in BP was refreshing. Something about black folx speaking Spanish gives me joy. Of course Lupita is Kenyan but she was born in Mexico City, so I’m sure it was a joyous moment for her as well.
3. “Wakanda got gay folks too”, thanks boo.
The 3 second “warm” moment between Aneka and Ayo was probably the most perfect representation of queer love in a superhero movie; and arguably the most beautiful representation of affection between same gender loving women characters that I’ve ever seen in a black film. It was romantic and intimate without being overly sensual for a family film. While it did not pass the censors in Kuwait, I am overjoyed that the unedited version will appear basically everywhere else. It was also a treat to see Michaela Cole in the Marvel Universe.
I also cannot write this journal and leave out the fact that Shuri was serving looks this entire film. I'm not sure if it was the haircut or the fit, but sis had the drip.
There is a lot of strong feminine energy in this movie. That's why I'm so glad this scene came at the end. There was a strong aura of womanhood, and as a woman who loves women- the beauty and bronze blended perfectly for me. I also love representation of strong sexy women without the need to sexualize them. Our warriors, our scientists and our leaders radiated in their roles.
4. The Techy v. The Brute (Shuri shows Brain over Bronze)Thanks Killmonger
When Killmonger showed up in Shuri’s ancestral plane, it made total sense. I immediately knew why he was there and what he wanted to ask Shuri. It’s what every guy like Killmonger questions when a woman is in power. Are you going to war or nah? Of course in the comics, Shuri does more than go to war, she destroys Namor’s entire kingdom- my sister and I credit that to the younger sibling syndrome (the youngest child’s ability to “turn up”- or go from 0 to 100- with "no chill" because they are used to getting their way or special treatment for being the baby in the family) In this particular instance, I just think that while Shuris is a woman that relies on science and logic; she would in most circumstances lean into her brother’s noble approach. However, at this point she has lost her father, brother and mother- so the kid has no patience left. In all fairness, she had to go to war if only to bring Namor to yield. But I’m glad that Princess Shuri as Queen showed them who she was.
5. Black Girls in Tech
The hero and sidekick story line with Shuri and RiRi (Ironheart) was quite a treat. Young, gifted and black much, Marvel? Their chemistry was amazing and it was refreshing to see two sisters support and empower each other through their gifts and talents on screen. It was like the buddy flick that we never knew we needed with two badasses that happened to be women. Also, seeing Shuri grow from “little sis” to “big sis” by becoming RiRi’s mentor was such a huge part of her character arc. I loved every second.
6. Toussaint Louverture nod (Prince T’Challa rebirth and double meaning)
This would be the 4th time I teared up seeing the rebirth of our King T’Challa through his son Prince T’Challa had a double meaning. Of course Toussaint Louveture was a huge inspiration to Denmark Vesey a free slave in Charleston, SC that almost led the largest historical slave rebellion in US history. He also established the Emanuel African Methodist Espiscopal Church. I can’t help but think the connection of Haiti to South Carolina was another nod to Chad. But also this thread of hope for Prince T’Challa will potentially free his people at some point. While Shuri is the next Black Panther (in the comics) after her brother; there is still an entire thread of story left untold with Storm, T’Challa, the X-Men and Namor. What will happen? We shall see, but the beautiful legacy of this story has a hope to live on.
7. Divine Feminine Energy
Every little girl (and boy) need to see this film. From the opening scene when the Dora Milaje stops the attack on Wakanda to Queen Ramonda addressing the council and reading them their rights...to Shuri and RiRi making STEM cool again- it all has an empowering thread. I wish I saw a film like this when I was 8 or 9. I hope that black and brown girls are inspired and I hope that little boys are as well. I love this moment in cinema history. I have to cut this journal short because I’m on my way to Georgia for my last performance of the year. As Marvel continues to create new ways to make me invest my money, I encourage you all to go see Wakanda Forever- once, twice, thrice if you can. Support Black Excellence.