Black Panther [Spoiler Free Review]
Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi | 16 February 2018 (USA)
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, and Andy Serkis
Director: Ryan Coogler
Based on the Marvel comic of the same name, the sensational Black Panther made his first appearance in issue 52 of Fantastic Four back in July 1966. Created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and the Marvel crew, the introduction of Black Panther was no accident. The mid-sixties was the height of the civil rights movement, with Dr. Martin Luther King and others taking the lead. The Black Panther offered readers a strong, intelligent and resourceful character who equaled and surpassed that of Iron Man and the Avengers.
After the events of Captain America: Civil War, Prince T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns to Wakanda. To the rest of the world, Wakanda is believed to be a third world country, never requiring assistance or aid. In reality, it is a hidden nation rich with resources and advanced technology in part by vibranium, the ‘rare’ metal used to create Captain America’s shield. Even with all its advances, Wakanda is very grounded in its African roots and culture. With the death of his father, T’Challa questions his readiness to serve as his country’s new leader. With one side questioning if there is more the country can do to help the rest of the world, while other wishing to preserve their seclusion. In the same moment, Erik “Killmonger” Stevens (Michael B. Jordan), a methodical former black-ops soldier with an old enemy Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) steal an artifact that risks the exposure of one of Wakanda’s many secrets. Black Panther teams up with Everett K. Ross (Martin Freeman) a C.I.A. agent and members of the Dora Milaje, Wakanadan special forces to capture Klaue. Unbeknownst to them, the real threat to the kingdom was close behind.
There are so many positive things I could say about this film, let’s start with the writing. Ryan Coogler performed double duty as director and writer with Joe Robert Cole have crafted something beautiful here. Although not without its flaws, the story has a clear Shakespearean influence, a sprinkle of political thriller and a dash of James Bond, all while managing to seamlessly feel like the next chapter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The focus is on the characters. This film is loaded with amazing performances by the cast. It may be easier for me to single out who didn’t stand out, but I won’t. Each person introduced in this film had a purpose and was meticulously thought out. Boseman continues from his excellent work (from Captain America: Civil War) as T’Challa/Black Panther, I could add more detail but that would dive into spoiler territory. Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger is.. I think it’s wrong to call his role a villain. His arc is so developed and for lack of a better description, he is a sympathetic anti-hero. I think it would be unfair to even compare him to existing antagonists in the MCU, it’s just that outstanding.
The women of the film are amazing. Okoye (Danai Gurira, of Walking Dead fame), leader of Dora Milaje has an unflinching loyalty to Wakanda and the ruling crown. Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), former relations of T’chala and spy who wishes Wakanda did more for the world outside. Shuri (Letitia Wright), T’Challa’s 16-year-old sister and princess is a genius with technological prowess and an apprehension to tradition. Easily one of the scene stealers of the film. They are all strong women in their beliefs, personalities, and strengths. Even the supporting characters are expanded. Martin Freeman role as Ross in Civil War was so brief, I wondered her possible purpose could be? Sure enough, there is a great reason he’s there. Honorable mentions to academy nominee (for “Get Out”) Daniel Kaluuya as W’Kabi, Winston Duke as the towering M’Baku (leader of Wakanda’s mountain tribe, the Jabari) and legends, Angela Basset’s Ramonda (T’Challa’s mother) and Forest Whitaker’s Zuri (keeper of the mysterious Heart-Shaped Herb). While not all roles, stayed true to their comic roots, the changes served a greater purpose.
The movie is stunning to look at. The cinematography, the attention to detail, the vibrant color of the surroundings, the costume design. All played a part and in its contribution, and were active characters in the story. Now, it is because of that level of quality is why when the poorly implemented CGI surfaces, it pulls you out of the illusion and it takes a moment to get back into immersion. Luckily the narrative offers such a great payoff, that the flaws are almost forgivable.
Black Panther has two post-credit scenes you may want to stick around for. The first of which is just inspiring, one may wonder if it is taking a subtle jab at the current political climate. While the second, you’ll find out.
Black Panther is not the first Marvel black superhero to hit the big screen, but it’s certainly the first with a black director, all black writers, and predominantly black cast backing up the film. As a historical achievement that may be, by far greatest accomplishment is the film’s ability to entertain, inspire and transcend race.
Black Panther is out NOW.
Marvel Studios’ Black Panther – [Official Trailer]
Here are the REAL D 3D, IMAX and DOLBY exclusive Posters.
Sources: Marvel Studios