Black Panther (2018)
Directed by: Ryan Coogler
Written by: Ryan Coogler & Joe Robert Cole
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letita Wright, Winston Duke, Sterling K. Brown, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis
Comic book movie releases have evoked excitement from fans for many years now, but the release of Black Panther has a completely new vibe to it. African American moviegoers are obviously excited for the opportunity to see a superhero movie they’ve always dreamed of. No disrespect to Wesley Snipes’ Blade franchise which produced two great movies, but an MCU film is a different kind of beast. For everyone else, this is a chance to see a fan-favorite character and a Marvel Universe staple done right. And to say they’ve done Black Panther justice is an understatement. This was a beautiful film, both in cinematography and in story.
Even with a young, talented, and ambitious director in Ryan Coogler and a budding star in Chadwick Boseman, along with an all-star cast behind them, I’m shocked at how much freedom Kevin Feige gave to this movie. This is not a prelude to Avengers Infinity War and it’s barely even a Marvel movie. Gone are the easter eggs and gratuitous superhero cameos, and in their place we are given an epic and mature epic journey of T’Challa as he learns about the responsibility of being a King. It’s a different style of film than what MCU fans are used to getting but fits in perfectly. And though the storytelling is mature, there are humorous scenes that never undercut emotionally powerful moments. And there will be plenty of times that this movie cuts right into your core. Something Coogler films seem to have in common.
Black Panther is going to shake up a lot of all-time favorite film lists. It is easily one of the best comic book movies ever made, and though you can compare it to many movies, no other cast can come close. Coogler must have walked on set with a perpetual smile while being surrounded by this embarrassment of riches in talented actors.
I can’t imagine anyone but Chadwick Boseman playing Black Panther. He’s able to encompass so much of the character with a single look. Michael B. Jordon’s Killmongarer is easily one of the best villains of the MCU, though that may not be a huge accomplishment for some, it’s his portrayal during emotionally devastating moments that set him apart. Even on the drive back from the theater, I couldn’t help thinking about his character and Jordan’s performance.
This movie has such a strong female presence, it was phenomenal to watch. Lead by Shuri played by Letitia Wright, Okoye played by Danai Gurira, and Nakia played by Lupita Nyong’o. Shuri who is T’Challa genius younger sister really gives quite a showing. Her projects take spy gadgets to a whole other level and she just oozed charisma. Each character is so well fleshed, it’s amazing how they were able to perfectly delegate how much screen time to give an individual. There were so many and yet every single one of them pops. Just as people want a Themyscira Amazon movie, I want a Wakanda movie with the all-female Wakandan Special Forces, Dora Milaje. The action scenes alone would be amazing.
That’s what makes this film so special. Rather than talking about the humor, action, CGI, and how it all fits within the MCU, my initial reaction is to praise the story and the people behind Black Panther. It can break your heart one second and then lift you up the next. It’s the stories of each character that make this such a brilliant movie, oh, and it also has great action and CGI to boot. The gadgets and costumes looked amazing.
Much like Wakanda, the plot keeps the story isolated and apart from the rest of the Marvel Universe. So don’t go in expecting a ton of connecting going on, but it’s so good you won’t care.
This film not only had to live up to the pressure of any big-budget superhero film but also the weight of importance that many have thrust upon it. Very rarely can a film actually satisfy with such lofty expectations, but Black Panther has found a way to surpass them. For all the recent talk of fandoms and stylistic choices of each studio, this is a movie everyone can enjoy. It has it all, just like Wakanda.