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‘Black Panther’ two, in a theater near you

Little did I know, when I took up a suggestion at my favorite Observer department meeting on Sunday to write a review for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” I’d be enjoying almost four hours of my Monday afternoon, time I ought to have spent doing ethics homework, at the Cinemark in Mishawaka. Though I’m quite sure this was the first time I have ever gone to a movie theater alone, it’s not that I’m in any way movie theater adverse. I enjoyed watching “Minions: The Rise of Gru” in theaters with my friend Nate over the summer as much as the next 20-something-year-old. So, when I came across the opportunity to review a sequel who’s antecedent, 2018’s “Black Panther,” I had yet to watch, I jumped on the chance. It just didn’t cross my mind that they still released movies that weren’t on Netflix.

I know this is becoming a farfetched review — but please hear me out. Take Gregory Peck’s advice in “To Kill a Mockingbird”: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view […] until you climb into his skin and walk around.” I took the story because I was greedy. I have yet to write for scene since fall break. As a liberal studies major, I encounter enough literature without appropriate context or foreknowledge all the time. Try understanding a lick of Dante without a multifaceted grasp of Medieval astronomy — I had no idea. Try understanding the Gospels before reading all 46 books in the Catholic Old Testament. It wouldn’t be the worst. Some points, like love your neighbor as yourself, stand alone.

Upon entering the theater, I did know that the lead actor of 2018’s “Black Panther,” Chadwick Boseman, had passed away. Therefore, I was not surprised that funerals and goodbyes were thematic points of emphasis. Two moments of silence were demarcated during the two-hour, 43-minute run time, at the beginning and end, when images of Boseman in character were flashed about the screen. Boseman was the first Black actor to star in a Marvel Cinematic Universe film. A Cincinnati Reds fan, I had enjoyed watching Boseman play Jackie Robinson in the 2013 film “42.” The man carried a tragic colon cancer diagnosis for the final four years of his life — spending his brightest moments in the spotlight knowing he was good for dead.

I hand over all credit to the movie producers for creatively maneuvering the death of the real-life and fictional Black Panther. Strong female African American actors were the unequivocal answer. Shuri (Letitia Wright) knocked it out of the park in terms of superhero style. “Wakanda Forever” was par for the course in terms of my experience of Marvel and comic movies in general go — a familiar action arch. The emotional rawness of Boseman’s death on top of the universal joy of watching women triumph in roles typically played by white men (e.g., Superman, Batman, Spiderman) had me thinking when I left the theater, as if I had just left a drama.

Speaking briefly on the plot elements I have deciphered from the notebook I scribbled upon in the dark theater, a mythological element named vibranium seems to be central to the movie conflict. I was blown away by the underwater kingdom of the Talokan — very Gunganesce. I would have liked to see Namor disintegrate into pieces on that dessert and it’s not possible for Shuri to have survived that spear wound. The fact that Talokanil could lure all those sailors to drown themselves hit home to me as a reference to Sirens. The film, at its best, incorporated cultural elements from indigenous peoples of Africa and the Americas as well as the West. No doubt, most of these references flew over my head. But, because I could sniff all the allusions I was missing, I knew it was a good movie.

Title: “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”

Starring: Letitia Wright, Tenoch Huerta, Angela Bassett

Director: Ryan Coogler

If you like: “Black Panther” (2018)

Shamrocks: 4.5 out of 5

Contact Peter Breen at pbreen2@nd.edu.

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D23 Expo announces new projects

This past weekend, the biennial D23 Expo occurred at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California from Sept. 9-11.

The event was originally planned for 2021, but due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it was pushed back to 2022. It was also pushed back to highlight Disney’s plans for the 100th anniversary of the company on Oct. 16. 

The D23 Expo stems from the D23 Official Disney Fan Club, which was founded in 2009. D23 refers to “D” — which stands for Disney — and “23” for 1923, which was when Walt Disney founded the Walt Disney Company. The expo contains panels and events very much like San Diego Comic-Con as well as a ceremony for the Disney Legends, a Hall of Fame program that recognizes individuals who made an extraordinary contribution to the Walt Disney Company. 

The 2022 D23 Expo kicked off with the 2022 Disney Legends ceremony. Notable members who were inducted into the Hall of Fame include Anthony Anderson (“black-ish,” “Law & Order”), Kristen Bell (the “Frozen” films), Ellen Pompeo (“Grey’s Anatomy”) and Josh Gad (also the “Frozen” films). Posthumously, Chadwick Boseman (“Black Panther”) also received an induction, which was accepted by his brother Derrick. 

Following the ceremony, Disney CEO Bob Chapek took the stage, with many people in the crowd booing him. Chapek has garnered a lot of attention in the media for making questionable changes to the Walt Disney Company; in recent news, he was called out for his commencement speech at Indiana University this past May when he switched up the nicknames of Disneyland California and Walt Disney World in Florida.

Chapek announced that many of the parks across the world are expanding and many new attractions were announced. In particular, the heavily anticipated TRON Lightcycle Run at the Magic Kingdom was announced, set to open in the spring of 2023. 

As is the case with Disney in general, the D23 Expo announced a ton of new movies and TV shows that are under the Disney mantle. One film that is especially anticipated is the live-action remake of the classic 1989 film “The Little Mermaid,” starring Halle Bailey in the main role of Ariel and Melissa McCarthy as the sea witch Ursula. The film is set to be released on May 26, 2023.

In addition to the live-action “Little Mermaid,” many interesting projects are also coming out. Because there are so many, here are just a few that are the most anticipated. One project that fans of Disney are waiting for is “Disenchanted” from Walt Disney Pictures, the sequel to the 2007 film “Enchanted.” That movie is set to be released on Nov. 24 of this year. Another Walt Disney Pictures project that has been announced to join the live-action remakes is “Snow White,” starring Rachel Zegler in the titular role and Gal Gadot as the Evil Queen. The film is set to be released sometime in 2024. 

From Pixar, the biggest project that was announced is “Inside Out 2,” set to be released on June 14, 2024. In addition to the massive list of projects from Marvel announced several months back, the biggest that is set to be released is “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” With a Nov. 11, 2022 release date looming, the film should carry on the legacy that Chadwick Boseman created with the character. Marvel also announced two new “Avenger” movies that are set to be released in 2025, titled “Avengers: The Kang Dynasty” and “Avengers: Secret Wars.”

Overall,the D23 Expo made many announcements that should satisfy all Disney, Pixar, Star Wars and Marvel fans.

Contact Nicole Bilyak at nbilyak01@saintmarys.edu