Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which releases in a month’s time, is certainly the most important Marvel film of late because of what it means for the franchise at large.
There are two ways of looking at the Marvel Cinematic Universe currently. Some might argue that it has never been bigger and better. The first part is true and the second debatable, but clearly, the MCU has spread its branches out in so many directions that it is tough to gauge just how vast it is. Others say that due to this vast spread, the quality has diluted. There is a case to be made there as well.
The latest Thor film divided fans and critics and some of the newer web shows have failed to hit rating highs. Amid all this comes Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The film, and its fate, is vital for the future of the MCU at large and, to an extent, the superhero genre as well.
MCU has divided its storytelling in phases. Usually, a phase is bookended by tentpole films, usually one of the Avengers titles. The ongoing Phase Four, as many fans have noted, lacks an Avengers film. In fact, the next Avengers film — The Kang Dynasty — is part of Phase Six, and releases in 2025.
In the absence of a tentpole, the honour (or responsibility) of closing out this phase of the MCU falls upon Black Panther 2. To many, the phases of MCU are invisible but there is always a tonal shift when one ends and another begins. And hence, it is important to begin and end one strongly. An Avengers film–or even a multiversal adventure like Spider-Man: No Way Home–has good resources to do that. Black Panther 2 faces that unenviable task, but it may just be up for it.