Movie Review: Black Panther
Black Panther, one of our most anticipated releases for 2018, has finally hit the big screen. The eighteenth installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the film follows T’Challa as he faces opposition on his return home to Wakanda following the death of his father, which took place in Captain America: Civil War. The film was directed by acclaimed director Ryan Coogler with the script co-written by Coogler and Joe Robert Cole. The film stars Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther with Michael B. Jordan portraying his main opponent, Erik “Killmonger” Stevens. The rest of the supporting cast is equally as impressive with performances from Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, and Andy Serkis. While it only officially began showings last night, the film is already expected to break $180 million on its opening weekend debut.
The film begins with a concise history of how Wakanda began and came to possess the most valuable metal in the world, vibranium. While the movie begins with this explanation and a quick flashback to some important events in the 1990’s, it quickly picks up a week after the events of Captain America: Civil War. T’Challa (Boseman) is on his way back to Wakanda to take up the mantle of king after the death of his father. He and Okoye (Gurira) pick up Nakia (Nyong’o), a Wakandan spy and close friend, on their way back to Wakanda so that she can be present for the coronation ceremony. Once back in Wakanda, T’Challa soon finds himself in an interesting position when Ulysses Klaue (Serkis) appears to be selling stolen vibranium in South Korea, which prompts T’Challa, Nakia, and Okoye to lead a mission to retrieve the metal and Klaue. Once they reach their destination, though, their plans become more complicated with the presence of CIA Agent Everett Ross (Freeman) and Klaue’s new partners in crime.
I will admit that it’s a little hard to write a synopsis or review for this movie without giving away any spoilers; however, I will give it my best effort. This is one of Marvel’s most beautiful films to date in every way. Visually it is stunning, and the homage it pays to African culture is equally as beautiful. The film picks up seamlessly from the events in Captain America: Civil War without diminishing T’Challa’s personal journey throughout the course of that film, and it sets this character up perfectly to be a force in Avengers: Infinity War. Most importantly, though, this movie is a thought-provoking tale of a man who must figure out how he will lead his people in a way that honors their past and protects their future. Incorporating the themes of isolationism, revolution, and oppression, the film goes on to ask thought-provoking questions that all of the main characters wrestle with and struggle to answer.
This should probably go without saying at this point, but all of the performances are amazing, and in my opinion, Marvel puts forward some of their most intriguing and well-developed characters in this film. The character of Black Panther is clearly an intriguing character, but it is his struggle to simultaneously be a good king and a good man that makes the movie as compelling as it is. Boseman does this character justice and embodies him perfectly; to his contrast, Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger is a perfect adversary for this character. His backstory is one that is heartbreaking, and his hardened nature is a perfect match for T’Challa’s compassion. While the men gave some impressive performances, though, it is the women who honestly steal the show. The combination of Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, and Letitia Wright is a formidable one, and they each bring something important to the story. Black Panther would not be who he is without the counsel and military expertise of Okoye, played by Gurira, or the technological support of his incredibly brilliant sister, Shuri, played by Wright. There is literally not enough time or room to herald the casting choices for this film and how everyone from Chadwick Boseman to Forest Whitaker knocked it out of the park.
Ultimately, Director Ryan Coogler delivers one of the best Marvel movies to date, and in my opinion, he delivers the best solo film of any Marvel character to date. The sweeping visuals, mesmerizing set design, and incredible score only add to the greatness of this film. At the end of the day, the real draw, though, is T’Challa’s journey and the greater questions asked throughout the film. I think it’s safe to say that Black Panther will do for the superhero genre in 2018 what Wonder Woman accomplished in 2017. I, for one, cannot wait to see this character reappear in this May’s Avengers: Infinity War, and I cannot recommend this movie enough. Black Panther is worth the watch in theaters, and you can expect for the theaters to be pleasantly packed all weekend.
Mollie is a film enthusiast, aspiring writer/screenwriter, and a lover of all things Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Doctor Who. She is the co-founder of The Digital Shore (@thedigitalshore) and Above The Line (@atl_movies). You can follow her many adventures through Twitter and Instagram at @mcbeach.