Black Panther Review
I have been waiting so long for this movie, and it is finally here! This film has received incredible amounts of praise and immensely positive reception so far. Is this most recent installment in the Disney Marvel Cinematic Universe as good as they say?
Black Panther was directed by Ryan Coogler and stars Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa, Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger, Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, Letitia Wright as Shuri, Danai Gurira as Okoye, Andy Serkis as Klaue, and Martin Freeman as Everett Ross. The story takes place almost immediately after the events of Captain America: Civil War (2016), which marked the introduction of Black Panther in the MCU. After the untimely death of his father, T’Chaka, T’challa returns to Wakanda to be crowned king. It is not long before his rule is threatened by Ulysses Klaue, who has stolen some of Wakanda’s precious Vibranium, and his accomplice, Erik Killmonger, who is looking to overthrow T’Challa for his own ideals.
This movie was fantastic. I loved the fictional African setting of Wakanda, which seamlessly blended futuristic with tribal culture, as did the soundtrack. The first quarter of the movie takes a good amount of time introducing the world, the culture, and the characters, which some would say made for a slow start. For me, I think the world building was necessary for such a lesser known property and made the rest of the movie all the more engaging. Wakanda itself was a character, manipulated and changed by its inhabitants. And that is where the movie truly shines above other films of its kind: the characters. Like in Coogler’s other films, such as Creed, the characters in Black Panther are fascinating, enjoyable to watch, and there is not a single main character that is not as memorable as T’Challa himself, and that is both because of the brilliant writing, and the incredible performances.
Starting with the king himself, T’Challa was great. Though he was a little one-note, and definitely not the strongest in regards to humor, he manages to give off this vibe of strength and regality that a king should have. He is smart, skilled, and loyal to his people and his family. He is just as great as he was in Civil War, and it was great to see him finally lead a film.
As for his counterpart, Killmonger, Disney has deviated from the norm and created an incredible antagonist. I am not willing to say he is better than Loki, but he is without a doubt the second best villain to date in the MCU. Not only did he have an incredibly deep, rich, backstory that leads him to be what he is today, he was performed so perfectly. From the moment he is introduced in the museum, he oozes charisma and power, blending humor with intimidation. The best part of his character was his motives, which were rooted in fair intentions, but obviously expanded into the realm of villainous actions.
The biggest standout for me, however, was T’Challa’s younger sister, Shuri. I had a feeling from the trailer alone that she would end up my favorite, and I was correct in that feeling. She was hilarious, and every one of her jokes hit, especially one that I won’t spoil, but you’ll know what I mean from the audience uproar of laughter! She is also incredibly smart. According to Kevin Feige, head of Marvel Studios, she is the smartest human on Earth, even smarter than Tony! I cannot wait to see how she interacts with him in Infinity War this May.
While they did not stand out to me personally as much as Shuri and Erik, everyone else was incredible. M’Baku was in the movie a lot more than I expected and had a very unexpected use for those of us who are familiar with Man-Ape in the comics. Okoye was incredibly badass, as was Nakia. Ross was also a welcome addition to the cast and had a lot more to do than he did in Civil War.
As far as flaws, I think that the CGI in certain parts of the film stood out as fake, taking the realism out of certain scenes. There were these battle rhinos in two parts that particularly stuck out to me. Though they were incredibly cool, I think the CGI could have been a lot better. When it comes to CGI in Marvel films, I like to put Doctor Strange as the film they should all aspire to be like. Strange used a ton of CGI, and none of it took me out of the film. The worst offense was the final battle, which I will not spoil. I have seen some people compare it to a particular fight scene in Spider-Man 3, which is probably not a good thing to be compared to.
Aside from some of the CGI, I really loved this movie. The characters were incredible, the story was great and had a very meaningful social commentary, and Black Panther is just so awesome to see on screen. I have been a fan of Black Panther since I was a kid, and I have been anticipating this movie ever since I saw Avengers in the theater, and realized how amazing superhero movies can be. While I don’t think it was the best Marvel film to date, that goes to the first Guardians of the Galaxy for me, this film certainly belongs among the best MCU movies. I am so happy we have gotten to the point in the film industry where lesser known characters like this can get their own major motion picture, and I cannot wait to see him again in Infinity War this April!