Black Panther 2 is a beautiful tribute to T’Challa & Chadwick Boseman

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever honors both T’Challa and Chadwick Boseman after the actor’s (and subsequently the character’s) death in a number of ways that leave the viewer reaching for the tissues. The film is laced with beautiful moments that capture the profound impact of loss, but on different sides of the spectrum. A number of other moments and progressions in the story honor the fallen hero and the man who brought him to life, and by the time the credits roll, it’s clear that the film was the best tribute you could ask for.

Funeral for a king

The beginning of the film centers on T’Challa’s demise. Without going into detail, it is clear that he has become terminally ill, and Shuri is doing everything she can to find a cure for him. Unfortunately, her brother dies before she can save him, and the moment is captured in a heartbreaking moment where Queen Ramonda (Oscar-worthy Angela Bassett) doesn’t need to say anything to communicate her crushing grief. T’Challa’s funeral is shown next and is captured in striking detail. A ritual dance, a mosaic of the fallen king’s face and an emphasis on Shuri’s raw grief illustrate the immense grief felt in the fictional world and presumably by the actors who are grieving the loss of their friend.

This viewing experience is especially powerful for the countless fans who never really got a chance to say goodbye to Boseman; yes, the funeral is for the superhero he played, but it’s easy to look past that and treat the ceremony as a final farewell to the beloved actor. Throughout his remarkable career, Boseman captured the hearts of many viewers, and this part of the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever provides a metaphorical memorial.

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Wearing the cloak

One of the main ways the film (and the MCU by extension) honors both T’Challa and Boseman is in its handling of the Black Panther mantle. At times, some fans rallied to Marvel to recast the role after Boseman’s death. This choice could have been jarring, like the sequel to Black Panther premiered just over two years after his death. There is no rulebook on the correct mourning period, but simply replacing Boseman and T’Challa with someone else would have done a disservice to the man and the character. Up until this point, the world of Wakanda has been built up in several films with Boseman’s T’Challa at the center. Without the ability to actively keep him on the edge, the next best approach was essentially elevating the people around him, and that’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever do.

Among others, Shuri (Letitia Wright) and Okoye (Danai Gurira) get even more prominent roles, and T’Challa’s sister will ultimately become the next Black Panther. By doing so, she honors him and keeps his memory alive, whereas an unrelated substitute would not have that emotional connection. Going forward, Shuri will carry on her brother’s legacy, just as Wright will be the focal point of this corner of the MCU. Although they are big shoes to fill, both the character and the actress have proven that they are more than capable of doing so.

Go on, my wayward son

The opening scenes are guaranteed to leave even the most cynical viewer at least a little misty-eyed, but the very end of the film is another tearjerker. As the story comes to an end, Shuri has almost lost everything. Although she ultimately defeats Namor, she also loses her mother. When the match is over, she takes some time to grieve, and the moment is filled with heartbreak. Then, in a bittersweet twist, Nakia introduces Shuri to her son Toussaint. Turns out his Wakandan name is T’Challa.

Here, the viewer learns that the memory of the first T’Challa will live on in the form of his heir. At this stage, it’s not important if his son becomes an important part of the MCU. Instead, the poignant moment leaves audiences with a tearful smile, as seeing Shuri meet a new member of her family — especially after experiencing so much loss — is a heartwarming ending to perhaps the most emotional film in MCU history.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a fitting way to say a final goodbye to both Boseman and T’Challa. The MCU will never be the same without them, but this installment pays homage to them and honors their legacy in various ways. It also creates the future of Wakanda and the franchise itself, and in doing so, Marvel ensures that fans’ memories of the duo will live on for years to come.

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