Yes, even though I was in the theater last Thursday night, I waited the obligatory week to give y’all a chance to get on my level and see Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Ain’t I a great guy? Let me set the scene: it was 10:45 PM, and I was suffering from a bad cough, so I was stifling it, lest the folks around me think I had The ‘Vid. Around the one hour mark, it got really bad holding it in, and I started tearing up. So that whole situation probably had an effect on my moviegoing experience. Instead of a review, per se, I’m just going to share some thoughts I had about the movie.
- This was the first movie in Phase 4 that *felt* like an EVENT. Sure, much of that was due to the audience’s curiosity as to how Chadwick’s death would be handled, but this was the first Must See tentpole of the post-Endgame era.
- Speaking of Chadwick, T’Challa’s death was handled as tastefully as possible, given the circumstances. It properly conveyed Shuri’s powerlessness, in that she lives in a world of gods, heroes, and super science, yet still couldn’t save her brother.
- While it could be argued that it’s an ensemble film, it feels like that’s out of necessity rather than by design. Someone on Twitter said that the movie doesn’t seem to know who its lead is for much of the film, and I’d have to agree with that. They had to peel away the layers of the onion to finally get to Shuri as the centerpiece of everything. As such, the forced ensemble is missing something that I can’t quite put my finger on. Is it Chadwick himself? I mean, his absence looms large over the whole thing, but I’m not sure if that’s to the movie’s strength or its detriment.
- I’ve never really liked Namor. In fact, it would be more appropriate to say I love to hate Namor. He’s just that kind of guy. So, with that said, this Namor, or “Child Without Love”, was not MY Namor. He doesn’t feel like a proven leader. I mean, he protects his people, but it seems like he’s leader primarily because he’s a mutant, and one of the first children of the Talokan underwater society. He’s not very regal, though. And, while some might beg to differ, I didn’t find him very charismatic. THIS is the guy who’s supposed to charm the invisible pants off of Sue Richards? Nah, son!
- I understand it was probably a closed ceremony, open only to the Wakandan people, but no Avengers had time to show up for the man’s funeral? I mean, Ruffalo seems like he’s down for anything, and the White Wolf owes T’Challa – and the people of Wakanda – a great debt. I understand it might have cheapened the scene, kinda like if they’d left that kneeling scene in Endgame, but the Marvel fanboy in me still kinda wanted a cameo.
- It was the first MCU film since Eternals where I *felt* the length. Sure, I was sick and probably shouldn’t have been at a movie, but the first time I looked at my watch was an hour into the movie, knowing there was still another hour and 41 minutes to go. I’m sure something could have been cut:
- Like the stuff with Everett Ross. Those scenes added nothing to the film except the reveal that he was married to the Contessa. I know they’re trying to weave her into the tapestry as the new Evil Nick Fury, but unless these seeds needed to be planted right now, I feel like this could have waited until Secret Invasion (in which Ross is reported to be appearing).
- Oof! I thought my boy M’Baku was a goner when he got that super punch to the chest. I mean, Thanos did that to Rhodey in Civil War II and killed him, so I was bracing for the worst. That said, either Okoye or M’Baku probably should have died. Yes, it’s a movie filled with death, but the stakes never actually felt that high whenever the Talokans fought the Wakandans. Only Queen Ramonda gave her life for Wakanda, but none of its actual protectors and warriors did the same. Seems sus.
- Odd question I’ve had for awhile: who’s President of the United States in the MCU right now? I mean, it was William Sadler but, even without The Blip, he would be out of office by now due to term limits. Pre-Endgame, we know there was a President and he was in on things. Post-Endgame, they’ve gone to great lengths to actually not confirm who that is. In Falcon and The Winter Soldier, it was some Congressional folks involved, but not the President himself. Here’s some speculation – and you know I HATE doing this for MCU films – but what if it’s Thunderbolt Ross? I mean, there’s got to be a reason they recast him with Harrison Ford, and we do know he exited the military for politics. Most folks think Red Hulk is coming, but I think Ross is President Ross. Anyway, I started thinking political stuff during the UN scene.
- I didn’t love Riri. Before you start saying I’m trampling all over her Black Girl Magic, let me say that I love her in the comics. I just feel like her comic personality didn’t translate to the screen. Every time she spoke, I thought “This doesn’t sound like Riri.” Plus, what’s her motivation? Sure, her dad used to let her build stuff, but why a suit of armor? Why emulate Iron Man with no clear tie to Tony Stark? Even if they wanted to eschew the Stark connection, they didn’t provide a worthwhile substitution.
- So are you trying to tell me I’ve gotta wait 12 years before we get another Prince T’Challa? I mean, Toussaint is about 6, meaning he was conceived and born pre-Blip. Let’s say he’s able to challenge for the throne at the age of 18. So that’s 12 years with no new T’Challa. I mean, it was a clever way to stick it to the “Why aren’t you recasting T’Challa?” folks. Feige was like “Here ya go, but you’re gonna have to let him thaw out a few years.” We’ve got everything announced through 2025, so it’s not like we’ll be lacking for MCU entertainment. I just don’t know if Marvel wants to put Wakanda on a shelf that long. Are we really gonna get another Shuri as Panther movie? That doesn’t exactly interest me that much. And they can’t use the Soap Opera Aging trope on Toussaint, because that would affect the rest of the MCU. I mean, they’ve already tried it with Cassie Lang, to mixed results. I could have sworn she was older in Endgame than how she’s presented in Quantumania. There’s more than just a recast going on there.
In the end, I really enjoyed it. It’s not without its issues, but it’s a powerful, well-acted film. It serves as a fitting tribute to Chadwick, while also setting up a vulnerable Wakanda on the world stage, as everyone vies for its Vibranium. It’s a shame that Phase 4 was so unevenly “mid” that it ends on a note that it doesn’t truly deserve. I almost wish Wakanda Forever kicked off Phase 5, as Shang-Chi and Eternals don’t deserve to shine its shoes. But that’s all in the past, and what’s done is done. Now we can only look forward, as we’ve buried our dead and it’s time to move on.
Things You Might Have Missed This Week
- There’s a war of values brewing, as Candace Cameron Bure said that she moved from Hallmark Channel to GAC Family because they would embrace depictions of “traditional marriage”. Hilarie Burton (formerly of One Tree Hill and several Hallmark movies), then, called Bure a bigot for saying that, while Jojo Siwa piled on (there’s been some weird, multigenerational beef between Jojo and Candace in recent years), saying that Candace’s comments were hurtful to many communities. THEN Jodie Sweetin, in the ultimate Tanner Family Heel Turn, sided with Jojo! This is gonna get uglier before it gets better!
- Swifties broke Ticketmaster while trying to get in on the presale for Taylor Swift’s “Eras” tour, resulting in Ticketmaster canceling the public sale of tickets that was slated for today.
- Syfy’s Resident Alien appears to be on its last legs, as the network shortened the season 3 episode order from 12 episodes to 8. This is usually what happens before formal cancellation.
- Hasbro is looking to sell the portion their eOne TV and movie production arm that does NOT support their IP. So, things like Dungeons & Dragons will stay, while other productions, like The Woman King and Naked & Afraid, will be sent packing.
- Recently ended Australian soap opera Neighbours has been revived by Amazon freevee (formerly IMDBtv). Like, really? It had an actual finale. Old cast members came back and everything! Why do this? I swear, if EastEnders ever ends, let that shit die. I don’t wanna hear it’s been “saved” by Roku Channel.
- Apparently Epix is now MGM+, and they’re developing a live action series based on the Spider-Man character Silk. And I’ve got a bridge to sell ya!
I don’t even know where to start with this one. I mean, I feel like everything has been said by now, but I’ve got to say something, right? I have a pretty longstanding “rule” on the site that I don’t cover celebrity deaths. I mean, if you cover one, you’ve gotta cover them all, and they don’t all carry the same weight, as sad as that is to say. That’s not to say some folks weren’t important, but there’s a big difference between some old Hogan’s Heroes actor dying in his sleep at 96 and a 33 year old popstar found drowned in his tub. They were all someone to somebody, but I don’t feel comfortable wading in those waters. That said, there are a few pillars of pop culture who shaped my life in some form or fashion, and when they pass away, I can’t help but feel I have to give them their due. Tell what they meant to me. There’s a special distinction given to them by the site, called the West Life Ever (named by Mr. Zac Shipley). Anyway, this whole preamble is to say that last Friday, on November 11th, we lost actor Kevin Conroy. We lost Batman.
Like many folks my age, I was introduced to the Batman character through the Super Powers cartoon/toyline and the reruns of the 1966 Adam West Batman series. These things made me like Batman, but it wasn’t until Kevin Conroy came along that I fell in love with Batman. You see, Batman: The Animated Series debuted just as I was getting into comics. Having grown up with the camp of the West series, I wasn’t familiar with the grim and gritty side of things. I was too young to have read Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and, while I was swept up in Batmania with everyone else in 1989, the Michael Keaton version just didn’t entirely click with me. By this point, the comics had found a happy medium between the grit and the camp, and many of the stories focused on Batman as a detective – solving crimes instead of blowing up chemical plants. Reading the comics, though, it was hard to nail down a voice in my head for when Batman spoke. That all changed when Batman: The Animated Series came along. The Animated Series followed this detective thread, and really served to humanize the character. From that moment on, Kevin Conroy WAS Batman. Sure, there are others who had been Batman at some point in time: the aforementioned Keaton, Kilmer, Affleck, but Conroy was basically Batman for Life. He voiced that character for 30 years, in cartoons, video games, live action, you name it.
I had a list of folks I wanted to meet “before it’s too late”. This list included Adam West, Stan Lee, and, for whatever reason, Green Ranger Jason David Frank (he just seemed like the kind of guy we’d lose in a freak motorcycle accident or something), and I managed to meet all three of them. Conroy was never on the list because, well, I thought I had time. You never know what a person is going through, but I remembered he didn’t look too well during The CW’s Crisis event, back before the pandemic. Still, I figured it was just a case of something that coincided with their shooting schedule, and that he’d be better in no time. “I’ll get around to meeting him one day”, I thought.
He was a lot of things to a lot of people, and I’m sure you’ve heard many of those stories over the last week. I don’t have any personal anecdotes of meeting him, or having a Cameo from him. None of that will happen now. What I do know is I have a love of Batman that includes a deep understanding and appreciation for the character, and I know that none of that would have happened without Kevin Conroy. Thank you for everything. Rest well, as Gotham’s safe tonight. Kevin Conroy had the West Life Ever.
This is where I usually tell you to be sure to follow @westweekever on Twitter for all the latest site news and updates, but I don’t even know if Twitter will still be around when this goes up. Yes, it’s that bad. I never did really grow that account like I’d wanted. I once met Richard Branson, back when Virgin was doing comics, and I was talking to him about the comics. He said “Yeah, they’re coming along, aren’t they?” in a tone where it was clear even he didn’t believe it. They soon folded. So, yeah, the West Week Ever Twitter account is coming along, innit? Anyway, if you’re here, then you know how to find me. Be sure to bookmark and check back every so often. I’m not going anywhere.