“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” Digital Review: Long Live The Black Panther
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is a sequel in a long line of Marvel Studios sequels that expand the MCU. However, this one is more bittersweet than any other, considering it has to carry the weight of recognizing the tragic passing of Chadwick Boseman. The actor who died of Stage 4 cancer before filming could start left a void that could not be filled by anyone. But rather than try that, director Ryan Coogler moved forward with creating a celebration of the actor and the character he played while giving its strong female cast the space to mourn and carry on his legacy.
Now that the film has finished its theatrical run, it is heading straight to a home entertainment release, where fans can enjoy it as many times as they want. Of course, for those that choose that option, they can also watch the bonus features that come with the Blu-ray and Digital releases. We’ve already reviewed the “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” theatrical release, so we will forgo the film review and take a look at the two bonus features.
In “Envisioning Two Worlds,” the cast talks about what it was like to return to Wakanda and reunite with the co-stars. It’s full of joyful laughter and exploration of the expansion of the world of Wakanda. The education of this great nation through the unseen parts is incredible as we see more of the River Tribe and Jabari. And we also get to see how the rest of the world interacts with Wakanda through their politics or peaceful refuge. “Every time I come to the set, it’s my favorite set,” production designer Hannah Beachler says. “And I don’t know if it’s because it’s done or if it’s gorgeous. It might be both.”
Some of the same sets we have seen before have also evolved, not just to reveal more of this world but to pay respects to the king. For example, the inscriptions on the columns in the tribal council have a deep meaning that leans heavily toward honoring the great kings that came before those like T’Challa. For Beachler, it’s about “additions.”
Academy Award winner Ruth Carter wanted to come back to the world and groom it. Carter went all out to add more to the world, bringing in new designs for the tribes that we did not see in the first film.
The feature then shifts away from Wakanda and heads to Talokan, which pulls from MesoAmerican culture. We see how Beachler uses 70s beads to recreate some of the luminescent rocks for the caves. “MesoAmerican was something I was thinking about for quite a bit. And upon research, it became clear that the people of the Yucatan made a ton of sense,” Coogler said. The director says that the more they got into the world, the more they realized it was meant to be.
Taking inspiration from the Mesoamerican Temples and speaking to an archeologist, Beachler eventually got to where she needed to be but was also reminded that Namor never lived during those times. So everything is based n memory, which is why some things are askew. “He’s remembering what he’s been told and what he saw before everything was ruined,” she said.
Carter then talks about how his costume reflects the tradition that he honors. So much research went into the designs on his shoulder mantle and headpieces he wears on the throne. All of which were curated from post-Yucatec Mayan cultures. Namor’s look even took inspiration from the comics. The green shorts were given that MCU flair and had little touches to connect him to his people.
Actor Tenoch Huerta Mejia says he never imagined being in a Marvel Studios film and that it’s a dream. Watching the actor dive into these giant tanks to recreate oceanic scenes is breathtaking. He says the thing he loved most about the experience was the free diving and compares it to active meditation.
And Coogler wanted to shoot as many underwater shots as possible so they wouldn’t have to spend as much on underwater VFX. Bleacher adds that everything we see in the practical underwater scenes had to be tested to see how it would act. So they had to see if the materials would darken once taken underwater and how they would react at different heights and depths.
Though the stunt coordinators thought that the film would need a lot of stunt doubles for the underwater work, they were surprised to find out that many of the cast were interested in doing them. And while it was exciting for the cast to work on the surface and underwater, director of photography Autumn Durald Arkapaw was just as thrilled to work on the lighting for both worlds. “We had to take into consideration a lot of things because this city is so deep underwater there shouldn’t be any light,” she said. “But a lot of what we are used to seeing, underwater worlds, people breathing underwater, sometimes these examples can be overlit. A little fake, like they are not underwater. So, we had in our tank very soft light above pushing through, just to give you a nice ambient underwater that your eye would adjust to because it’s so dark in the depths that if you go into a dark room and your eye adjusts you can start to see through the darkness.”
Nate Moore said there was much to figure out regarding how the Wakandians and the Talokanil move through the water. “There’s a lot of math and geometry being done constantly to make sure that those groups of people move differently, but there is an internal logic to how everybody movies.
The second featurette, “Passing the Mantle,” centers on moving forward in a world where T’Challa is no longer with us. Moore said it only made sense to investigate what that loss meant to all the people he touched. As such, no one will feel that effect more than Shuri (Letitia Wright).
“From the very jump, Ryan let me know how he wanted me to play Shuri. I came in with an approach to be very serious, but Ryan let me know Shuri needed to be the love and the light of the film,” Wright said. So the actor talks about carrying that positivity to a place, so her character has somewhere to go in the future.
Coogler then talks about how Shuri’s coming-of-age journey is very relatable, even though it takes place within a fantastical realm. “To see someone who was young and bright-eyed and optimistic, maturing into adulthood and wrestle with things that I think all adults wrestle with, the idea of the mortality of loved ones that you believe were invincible,” he said.
The featurette also looks at the mother-daughter relationship between Queen Ramonda and Princess Shuri. Angela Bassett talks about how Ramonda’s most precious resource is her daughter. “Her embrace is that much tighter around Shuri, physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually,” she said. “Also, Riri.”
Bassett says Ramonda sees Riri as another daughter and becomes very protective of her. “The simplest way to talk about Riri Willians is to talk about her in terms of Shuri,” Coogler says. “Shuri is at a point where she is vacillating between optimism and apathy. She meets Riri, who’s like a version of herself, and Shuri ends up taking on a kind of big sister role, which is really interesting because she was the youngest character in the first film.”
The “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” home entertainment release also came with a few obligatory featurettes like the gag reel and deleted scenes.
But for those who will get just the digital version, it will come with the “Coming of Age” Feature, which basically takes the closing minutes from the “Passing the Mantle” Featurette.
- Take a look at some of the lighthearted moments on the set of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
- Listen to Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole, and Autumn Durald Arkapaw discuss the film.
- Envisioning Two Worlds – Uncover the making of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever through the lens and leadership of co-writer/director Ryan Coogler, production designer Hannah Beachler, and costume designer Ruth Carter.
- Passing the Mantle – Follow the evolution of the Black Panther through the films. In tracing Shuri, Ramonda, and Riri’s journeys through the film, this featurette explores what legacy ultimately means in Wakanda and how it will resonate with MCU viewers for years to come.
- Outside The Scope – Okoye has a shocking standoff with Ayo and the Dora Milaje. Aneka makes a challenging decision.
- The Upstairs Toilet – Ross infiltrates the NSA in disguise in an attempt to uncover information.
- Daughter of the Border – After a conversation with her Uncle, Okoye is faced with a daunting choice.
- Anytime, Anywhere – In Haiti, Shuri and Okoye share a bittersweet moment.
While the bonus features are a bit sparse, there is plenty to learn from the audio commentary, where Coogler, Arkapaw, and writer Joe Robert Cole talk about the film and point out some interesting facts that you may not have already known about. The commentary alone makes “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” a worth while addition for anyone who is a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.