By Zada Johnson –
STILL REMAINS A HIT AND BREAKS DISNEY+ VIEWING RECORDS AS IT HONORS CHADWICK BOSEMAN AND CELEBRATES THE BRILLIANCE OF BLACK WOMEN
After a successful run in the box office, Wakanda Forever premiered on Disney+ February 1st as part of its Black History Month Programming. Since its premier, Disney has announced that Wakanda Forever has broken the record of being the most-watched Marvel film on the streaming service in both domestic and global markets.
For the culturally conscious, Wakanda Forever will be a true odyssey of Afro-Diasporic and Meso America cultural expression. It will also be a heartwarming love letter to iconic lead man Chadwick Boseman, honoring the memory of this original Black Panther character who passed away from colon cancer in 2020. In the second installment of the Black Panther franchise, director Ryan Coogler places the historic oppression of indigenous peoples at the core of the film’s major plot line. The struggle of Wakanda to protect its natural resources from Western poachers alongside the struggle of Talokan to protect its underwater maroon nation from surface world exploitation alludes to the historic struggle of indigenous people worldwide. The film’s primary location of the Atlantic Ocean as a recurring site of conflict and battle between the nations of Wakanda and Talokan recalls the tragic histories that Afro- Diasporic and Meso-American nations endured during the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade (though as my movie going road dog rightfully pointed out, it would have been nice to see more scenes where these nations of color fought their actual oppressors instead of themselves).There is also a touching nod to Toussaint Louverture, leader of the Haitian Revolution, in the movie’s end credit scene.
Most strikingly, however, Wakanda Forever is a beautiful expression of Black woman empowerment. The original film’s previous nods to Black women warriors (led by (Danai Gurira’s Okoye) and Black girl genius are ramped up in the sequel with the addition of Riri Williams’ (Dominique Thorne) salute to hood girl genius, Nakita’s (Luptia Nyongo) strategic acumen as a Wakandan spy, Queen Ramonda’s (Angela Bassett) fierce determination, and Shuri’s (Letitia Wright) overarching responsibility to lead her people through times of multi-layered crisis. This renaissance of Black woman representation has been around for a while now (in TV series like The Watchmen, Underground and LoveCraft and movies like Harriet, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and The Woman King), but Wakanda Forever takes the portrayal of Black women’s brilliance to new and exhilarating levels.