how Marvel solved its big problem with superheroes

After the death of Chadwick Boseman, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever look for his superhero icons. What if that’s where the movie was the best?

The supremacy of superheroes on our screens, large or small, is such Black Panther: Wakanda forever he is fine in spite of himself an inconsistency in Marvel Studios’ algorithmic wake. The tragic death of Chadwick Boseman has left this second work an orphan, deprived of a main character whose striking force has made the hypothesis of a simple recasting impossible.

By becoming the standard bearer of a pop culture phenomenon finally turning to Africa, the actor forged a link between his activism and that of his character T’Challa. Marvel has also enjoyed playing with this meta ambiguity from the very beginning, ever since the redemption of Tony Stark in the first Iron man drew a parallel with the redemption of Robert Downey Jr., later freed from his addictions and his problems with the law.

In short, Chadwick Boseman was Black Panther, and his disappearance, transposed into the well-established diegesis of the MCU, becomes an astonishing bug in the machine. An absence that highlights another: the place of humans in the world of superheroes.


Drop the masks

Running out of super

From its introductory (and surprisingly effective) sequence that falls like a cleaver, Wakandan forever mark what will be its main reason: expropriation. The film is not only dispossessed of its hero, but the characters are above all dispossessed of a son, brother or friend. Furthermore, the entire Marvel system is suddenly deprived of a form of magic, one that reassures viewers about works and iterations in all formats of its universe: its longevity, and its way of doing, perpetuating icons as do the comics.

Paradoxically, the unstoppable factory is overtaken by reality of this transposition in live action. The lesson is almost terrible: in this reassuring world where death is rarely permanent (see Thanos’ snap that can be corrected), Marvel is forced to integrate her into her plans, and treat her characters accordingly. she.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever: imagesThe MCU in mourning

This expropriation becomes like this Black Panther 2 a tool both narrative and metaphorical. Without a protector, Wakanda is the victim of attacks from other states, and is going through an existential crisis like those of the protagonists. After burning the flowers that give the superhero his powers in the first film, Killmonger can use this vein to remove the ornaments and attributes of these superhumans.

And this is where the peculiarity of the feature film lies: Ryan Coogler strips the bodies he films to gradually expose themsupported by his most sensitive and naturalistic camera, closer to faces, inherited from his past in independent carnal cinema (fruitvale station). In this way it reveals real characters, forcing them to confront their own despair and cracks. Even when she has to deal with the forced introduction of Riri Williams in Ironheart, it’s to very quickly strip her of her armor until she climaxes.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever: photo, Dominique ThorneWithout Jarvis, the party is crazier

Against the Marvel Comedy Club

However, if there’s one thing Marvel Studios has been criticized for for many years, it is the inconsistency of his characterizationsreduced for the most part to ironic signs that deconstruct the extravagant world around them (and the normal laziness of the company’s script) through humor and the second degree.

Their superpowers and armor become a kind of palliative, an impassable wall of emotions and traumas buried behind the need for “coldness”. This no-stakes vision has become such an intrinsic code of the MCU that only the most skilled filmmakers have been able to hack. We could cite James Gunn and his way of psychoanalyzing Star-Lord’s egotism Guardians of the Galaxy (especially 2), but the most obvious case remains that ofIron Man 3.

Shane Black does more than just inject the movie’s codes on friends while popularizing it. It pushes Tony Stark to essential introspection, dealing with a trauma that hides in his armor. These are treated less like alter egos or superhuman extensions than a cage. Ironically, where Chadwick Boseman tragically left us with cancer, Tony Stark is emancipated from his armor by a medical operation, which ultimately removes the arc-reactor attached to his heart as a metastasized tumor.

Iron Man 3Robert Downey JrTo be or not to be Iron Man…

In Black Panther 2, deprivation of superpowers becomes synonymous with stakes. Not only do we fear for heroes who are no longer invincible, but are forced to face this restored humanity. Here they speak without escaping their anger, their suffering and even the political issues that the first film had to keep in the background. Shuri and Namor share the same pain and their relationship with power is given time to develop.

That’s also why Wakandan forever strongly disappoints in its last part, which returns to the comfortable rails of Marvel-style entertainment, with an explosive climax full of CGI, tough poses, sentences of condemnation and heroes hidden again behind tons of superheroic abilities (Black Panther, Midnight Angels, Ironheart, everyone goes). As if the film has its entire first half to make up for, it proves to us that the MCU can’t stray entirely from its established formula, while at the same time we come to a startling epiphany: Black Panther 2 it never gets better than when it’s devoid of superheroes.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever: images“What do you mean, I’m useless?”

Wakanda: There is no way to go home

Truth be told, this film in particular reminds us how far Kevin Feige and his teams have strayed from the substantial marrow of the comics they are based on. Unlike DC’s competition, which plays with a god-dimension-like cosmic mythology, Marvel finally only has a few gods on its roster. It is for this reason that Spider-Man remains the brand’s most popular icon: he is just a teenager struggling to find the balance between his daily life and his super heroic responsibilities.

Marvel characters are first and foremost humans who stand out from the crowd with their exceptional abilities, but this does not prevent them from remaining active members of society. However, the MCU tends to isolate its superheroes in an ivory tower, even beyond the Avengers base.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever: photos, Danai Gurira, Letitia WrightA certain idea of ​​swag

Since the Russo brothers have taken the helm of the franchise, it is easy to see that the streets of the various cities visited have progressively depopulated. The heroes are reduced to self-segregation, and become the metonymy of the threat Thanos poses to the entire universe. 50% of living beings are in danger of disappearing, but we are afraid only for our favorite characters, who are fighting on a desolate planet, or on a deserted plain in Wakanda.

On this point, Black Panther 2 take the opportunity to correct this shortcoming, e turns his imaginary country into a real movie setpopulated by passers-by, shops and houses, enough to understand in a handful of shots the functioning of this advanced and alternative society, especially when it is attacked by Namor.

Sure, its protagonists remain powerful, power-wielding nobles, but the film takes the time to bring them face to face with their status as rulers and diplomats. They need to protect their own and deal with their emotions, rather than just being action figures running through the crowd.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever: PicturesAttention: a city

Ryan Coogler then takes the opportunity to step away, too succinctly, from the established model and make Shuri a heroine plagued by revenge, to the point of being consumed by her in the last act. Wakanda forever he does everything he can to shape his place as a mere human being forced to assume the role of his brother and assume the image of protector of the nation.

At a time when the MCU brings the first Avengers to become an inspiration for a new generation (Kate Bishop, Ms. Marvel), the superheroes are sent back to their original nature: to be models for the world. Still, their humanity mustn’t be lost along the way, which is almost empty of Marvel’s meta-questioning in the face of its own ultra-liberal franchise system.

In the midst of all this jumble, Black Panther 2 resists the machine as best he can, and even if the result is more than imperfect, we will honor his moments of calm and introspection, until this post-credits scene where the image of Chadwick Boseman comes to haunt the saga one last time , not as a superhero, but as a father.

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