Arguably more important to the upcoming Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is not who will play the franchise hero moving forward in the Marvel Cinematic Universe—but how the sequel will pay tribute to its late star, Chadwick Boseman. The Black Panther lead tragically died of cancer in 2020. Instead of recasting the role of T'Challa, the upcoming film, which hits theaters on November 11, will show the fictional Marvel nation in mourning. Rebuilding and preparing for a future without their king, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever's moving story is being described by critics as a moving tribute to one of the most celebrated superheroes of the past decade.
The Marvel film, which introduces new characters such as RiRi Williams (Dominique Thorne) and Namor (Tenoch Huerta), held its world premiere in Hollywood on Wednesday night. At the event, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige said that Boseman's body of work would "last forever," and that "generation after generation after generation will get to feel his presence." The film also reportedly featured a jaw-dropping end-credits tease and the first new song from Rihanna in over six years, titled "Lift Me Up." Massive praise on social media followed the premiere, with critics lauding Tenoch Huerta's performance and the sequel's tear-jerking, respectful homages to their fallen hero. "We know how this feels," Letitia Wright told reporters at the premiere. "We have to take a step away. I see my aunt locking my eyes with me, she’s very proud… It’s emotional. We’re trying to hold it together."
Before you prepare for the gamut of emotions you'll feel while watching Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, see what other spoiler-free comments critics made after the emotional night.
Takes real artistry to make something as huge & expansive as Wakanda Forever feel intimate and heartfelt. All hail the mighty Coogler. Loved it.
— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) October 27, 2022
#WakandaForever is outstanding. It handles loss, grief and revenge with a maturity and seriousness rarely seen in the MCU. Black Panther continues to be their crown jewel. Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett and Tenoch Huerta all bring some of the best acting I've seen all year. pic.twitter.com/ECqGxfEyFi
— Lando (@orlandoenelcine) October 27, 2022
Black Panther: #WakandaForever is as epic as Marvel sequels get. The story is hugely ambitious & thematically rewarding with gut-wrenching twists and turns throughout. You feel the length but it’s fun, wildly beautiful and has the best credits scene in Marvel history, no contest. pic.twitter.com/zD8nYIFKXC
— Germain Lussier (@GermainLussier) October 27, 2022
#BlackPantherWakandaForever is a beautiful tribute to Chadwick Boseman. Visual stunner, with Angela Bassett commanding every scene she inhabits. Rihanna's "Lift Me Up" will do that for many. Another great post credit scene that's genuinely a jaw-dropper. Don't know about Oscars. pic.twitter.com/55YSor1PrD
— Clayton Davis – Stand with 🇺🇦 (@ByClaytonDavis) October 27, 2022
#BlackPantherWakandaForever prioritizes sentiment over spectacle and for the most part it’s a transporting and engrossing triumph. Arguably Marvel Studio’s most deeply felt and emotional resonant extravaganza. Also Ludwig’s score is an all timer. 🐆 pic.twitter.com/EAZK118L8A
— Drew Taylor (@DrewTailored) October 27, 2022
#WakandaForever's bigger in scope and scale than #BlackPanther, but its story is also one of Marvel's most intimate and heartfelt. It's definitely a Comic Book Movie, but it’s one that centers grief and the grieving process rather than superheroics and spectacle. Full review soon pic.twitter.com/MzIjwVzjBd
— Charles, Witch from Mercury (@CharlesPulliam) October 27, 2022
#WakandaForever is fantastic! Coogler delivers a soulful, wondrous sequel that packs an emotional punch & effectively explores relevant world themes. A beautiful tribute to Boseman’s legacy. Letitia & Tenoch are great, & the mid-credits scene is really moving. #BlackPanther pic.twitter.com/dqoSSfnTR9
— Fico (@FicoCangiano) October 27, 2022
Black Panther: #WakandaForever is Marvel's most poignant and powerful film to date. It's heavy and dark in the way that it needed to be, and mostly abandons the studio's trademark tone. The craft work levels up in every conceivable way, and the performances rise to the occasion. pic.twitter.com/aAK7jjRMra
— Brian Davids (@PickYourBrian) October 27, 2022
This article was first published on Esquire.