Black Panther is the 18th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it continues the story of T’Challa, otherwise known as Black Panther, that was set up in Captain America: Civil War. After the death of his father, T’Challa must take up his mantle as king of Wakanda, a secluded, technologically advanced country in Africa. When his power is challenged by Erik Killmonger, he realizes what it takes to be king. Ryan Coogler directed the film, and this is his third feature film after Fruitvale Station and Creed, two near-perfect movies, and Black Panther is no different.
This is the first major blockbuster movie with an entirely Black cast, so the expectations were extremely high. They took this on by highlighting the African culture in Wakanda. They didn’t shy away from the mysticism of the Black Panther lore. Everything about the origin was straight from the comics.
Marvel let Coogler go all out with the set design in the movie. It’s absolutely gorgeous, especially scenes in Wakanda, with vibrant colors, extravagant architecture, and Oscar-worthy costume design. All of the technology also added to the uniqueness of the scenery. The country was so beautiful, well-realized, and detailed that it became a character in the movie.
The story is incredibly exciting and thoughtful. They give you a fun superhero movie while highlighting some of today’s most pressing issues. This is one of Marvel’s most serious movies up there with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but it can certainly still be enjoyed like any other comic book movie.
Although the story is what makes the movie special, the action is still prevalent and well-done for the most part. The choreography should be commended, especially in a one-take scene in a casino. All of the scenes with Black Panther and the scenes with the Dora Milaje were impressing enough to get reactions from the audience.
Chadwick Boseman is becoming one of my favorite actors, with this after 42 and Get On Up he’s getting great at playing influential Black people. His powerful performance as T’Challa drives the movie because he brings a certain regalness that coincided with him still learning how to be a king.
The supporting cast is phenomenal and integral to the movie’s structure, the cast includes Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, and Winston Duke. M’Baku was probably my favorite supporting character, he commanded the screen whenever he was featured with his presence, yet he had some of the funniest moments of the movie. Winston Duke gave a great performance, and he’s definitely someone to watch out for.
In the supporting cast, a group that was highlighted prominently was the Black women. Danai Gurira plays the leader of the Dora Milaje, and she is badass along with the rest of the group. Not only are the warriors put into the spotlight, but Lupita Nyong’o’s Nakia was a female that wasn’t necessarily a warrior but could handle herself. Letitia Wright was one of my favorites as Shuri, she is T’Challa’s sister and creates most of his tech. Their relationship felt authentic and brought levity to the movie.
As consistently great as the Marvel movies are, one of their problems is that they have trouble making writing good villains for their heroes. Michael B. Jordan completely inhabited the character of Erik Killmonger, and the combination of his performance and the writing made him one of the best Marvel villains yet. He was a character who knew exactly what he wanted, and he pushed past all barriers to skip straight to that.
When he explains his backstory and why he’s doing what he is, you feel for him and maybe even agree. This does what Marvel rarely pulls off by having the audience understand and empathize with the villain. You almost want his ideas to come to fruition because of the perspective he comes from and the way Michael B. Jordan sells the character.
Of course, the movie isn’t perfect. Some of the CGI is overabundant and ends up looking like a video game. This was most obvious in certain parts of a car chase sequence and the final fight between Black Panther and Killmonger.
With those issues aside, I absolutely loved this movie. It’s a giant step forward for diversity in film, and it’s just a great movie from Ryan Coogler. The story is gripping, the cast creates some great characters, and Marvel gives us a fantastic villain, which is rare.
As late as this review is, you’ve probably seen the movie by now, but go see it if you haven’t. The movie has been immensely successful in the box office already, but it still deserves to be seen and supported by everybody.
Have you seen Black Panther? If so, what did you think about it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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