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Black Panther is a superhero film directed by Ryan Coogler and it is the eighteenth instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Chadwick Boseman reprises his role as T’Challa/Black Panther alongside an ensemble cast that includes Martin Freeman, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Winston Duke, Andy Serkis, Daniel Kaluuya, Sterling K. Brown, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong’o and Michael B. Jordan.
The story of Black Panther takes place after the events of Captain America: Civil War and T’Challa returns to Wakanda as King after the death of his father. However, he finds his sovereignty challenged by Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan). A conflict ensues between the two which has the capacity to have severe ramifications both in Wakanda and beyond.
My Knowledge and Expectation of Black Panther
Every time another MCU film is about to be released, I am pretty confident that it will be a good and entertaining as an absolute minimum. Black Panther was a different story. This film had a lot of potential to be amazing and one of the best MCU films to date. Everything I had seen from Black Panther looked unique and fresh. I was excited to see what was in store and, once the film was receiving universal critical acclaim, all it did was increase my expectations for Black Panther.
Another thing which filled me with a lot of hope that Black Panther would be something special was the directorial talent behind the film. Appointing Ryan Coogler as the director of the film was a great choice. His work on Fruitvale Station and Creed cemented him as being one of the most promising, up-and-coming directors working in the film industry today. He has had a great career so far and to think that he is only 31-years-old and has so many years ahead of him is exciting to say the least.
The cast for Black Panther just speaks for itself. Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis and Chadwick Boseman among other talented individuals should entice any film fan to see the film they are in. Everything was in the favour of Black Panther to be something that could transcend the superhero genre, especially with its social, racial and political themes which are extremely relevant in today’s climate. I wanted this film to be rich and have an abundance of depth. Moreover, I hoped Black Panther would be at high enough level of quality where it would be one of my favourite films in the MCU.
My Thoughts on Black Panther
Truly, I cannot remember the last time I was as emotionally invested in an MCU film as I was with Black Panther. Without a doubt, this film is in my Top 5 favourite MCU films and Ryan Coogler continues to impress me as a filmmaker with the incredible work he did in Black Panther.
A variety of reasons exist as to why I love Black Panther as much as I do. Let me start with the biggest positive of the film; Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger. For me, the biggest flaw of the MCU has been its inability to consistently produce compelling and/or sympathetic villains/antagonists.
In my mind, it is clear to see that the MCU struck gold with Killmonger. For me, he is one of the best MCU villains. This is because you identify with him due to his past struggles and how he wants to reveal Wakanda to the world and put an end to their isolationist tendencies. However, he goes about things in the wrong way and his methods would do more harm than good to the situation. Because of this, even though we know that he is the bad guy, we feel for KIllmonger throughout the film and it makes certain scenes towards the end of Black Panther that more of a gut punch.
He was the strongest aspect of the story in Black Panther and the story itself was very engaging and superb performances from the cast helped to bring it to life, particularly when it came to the actresses. For me, the women of Black Panther were huge standouts. Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), Okoye (Danai Gurira) and Shuri (Letitia Wright) were phenomenal and really pulled me into the film from an emotional standpoint, particularly in the third act.
Excellent World-Building + Timely Themes
Make no mistake, Chadwick Boseman was great as T’Challa/Black Panther. He was captivating in the lead role but the women around him, as well as the villain, elevated both him and the film. Moreover, an element of Black Panther such as the Dora Milaje, a team of special forces which Okoye was the leader of, helped to flesh out Wakanda.
Certainly, the amount of world-building was immensely impressive, especially as it was all done in one film. You see how vast and rich the lore and nation of Wakanda is and it pulls you into the film. Additionally, the story being told deals with some extremely relevant social, political and racial themes which also elevates your experience with the film. Undoubtedly, Black Panther is a timely film which has a lot to say beyond its superhero plot.
It is an important film to watch because of what is going on in the world nowadays which helps Black Panther transcend the superhero genre. Scenes in the film which proved how well it becomes more than just a superhero film include Killmonger’s conversation with his father, played by Sterling K. Brown, as well as his final scene with T’Challa. Both scenes were incredibly powerful and showcased the themes of the film in a great way.
Other Highlights of Black Panther
As you can see, I have been incredibly positive about Black Panther so far and that is not stopping now. The use of colour was brilliant, the score and its use of percussion was excellent and it fitted in well with the film. The humour in Black Panther, like every MCU film I have seen, was more hit than miss. This is especially the case whenever M’Baku (Winston Duke) or Shuri were involved.
The only criticism I would have of Black Panther is that the lighting for the action scenes could have been better so I could see what was going on more clearly than I could. Still, that is a small gripe in an otherwise amazing film which ranks amongst the best in the MCU. Moreover, it has made the wait for Avengers: Infinity War more unbearable than it has been and I cannot wait to return to Wakanda and these characters in that film.
Thank you for reading this review! You can find my other articles here on Soapbox as well as my reviews which you can also find at my blog theturnertalks.com.