“Black Panther” is directed by Ryan Coogler and it’s the eighteenth installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After the events of “Captain America: Civil War”, T’Challa/Black Panther is returning to the nation of Wakanda, now king, but he soon finds himself involved in a conflict that not only poses a threat to Wakanda, but challenges T’Challa’s status as king. This movie features the cast of Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis, Forest Whitaker, and many more big names that you’re sure to recognize.
It feels a bit odd to be reviewing this movie right in the midst of my review for all of the MCU films leading up to “Avengers: Infinity War”, but nevertheless, this was not a movie that I was going to miss. What little we saw of Black Panther in “Captain America: Civil War” was great and I was excited to see more of him, especially seeing as how he’s now in a movie directed by Ryan Coogler, one of the best directors in the business right now. And of course it’s worth mentioning the cultural impact that this movie is sure to have, leading this to become one of the MCU’s most anticipated films, so now it’s time to see how it’s turned out.
What I really liked seeing in this movie was T’Challa in his role as both the king of Wakanda and Black Panther. With Marvel origin stories, it seems to be the go-to formula to make our hero start off as an arrogant, self-absorbed hothead who has to be humbled to a degree, but it was really refreshing to see a different take in this origin. T’Challa is a genuinely good and wise king and the movie not only emphasizes that very well, but it also points out that there is trial and error in balancing being a good person as well as a powerful ruler who has to make some tough calls in that position. Long story short, I really liked how T’Challa is portrayed and I think it was a new, different take compared to what we usually see in comic book origin stories.
I also have to give major praise to an area that Marvel is usually lacking in: the villain. I can probably count on one hand the number of genuinely good MCU villains we’ve had and I’m glad to say that Killmonger, played by Michael B. Jordan, is one of them. He’s given a tragic backstory, one to where you actually understand his worldview. You obviously don’t agree with the means in which he goes about his plan, but the sympathetic nature is still there. He’s a flawed human being, but these flaws are what make him compelling and his development as a character only gets stronger as the movie plays out. Admittedly, he may not be in the film as much as you expect, but when he’s onscreen, he steals every scenes he’s in, making for one of the best MCU villains.
This movie is an absolute champion in terms of world-building. We get out first introduction to Wakanda and as the trailers showed, it’s a very vibrant and lively nation, but there’s a lot more to it than just cool visuals and pretty colors. There’s an actual culture that’s put on display. Ryan Coogler gives us a look at the politics of Wakanda, the cultural beliefs and practices, and a history that’s genuinely fascinating to learn about. It also helps that it’s all presented to the audience in a “show, don’t tell” way. We’re not spoon-fed every little detail about the culture and it makes for cinematic world-building that we don’t see much of in movies nowadays.
I’m also relieved that this movie has a nice balance of serious drama and humor. I personally feel that with some of Marvel’s more recent entries, they’ve been overdoing it in terms of comedic relief. I feel that movies like “Thor: Ragnarok” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” had WAY too much humor and it affected the movies as a whole. But in “Black Panther” the present humor isn’t overbearing at all. This movie knows when to go for a joke here and there, but it also knows when to stay serious and not ruin any emotional moments with a throwaway one-liner.
In terms of being an action movie, this movie does its job well, though I’m not going to say that this is a truly groundbreaking milestone for action scenes in comic book movies. There are some really neat sequences, whether it be a car chase scene or a series of fight scenes, it’s a mostly well made action flick. That being said, the climactic action scene is the weakest part of the film in my opinion. A lot of the CGI is very noticeable and there are even some times when it’s too dark to even see what’s happening on the screen. Most of the action is good, but it ultimately takes a backseat to the grandiose world-building that’s put on display.
Overall, I think “Black Panther” is a really damn good movie that I highly recommend to die-hard Marvel fans, and just general moviegoers who want a solid comic book movie that feels different from others. It has the beautiful mythology surrounding Wakanda, memorable characters, relevant social commentary, and it also stands on its own as T’Challa’s story while also not going completely overboard with setting up and playing into the MCU. This movie did not disappoint me and I can confidently say that I want to see more of these characters and this world.
Rating: Full Price!