Black Panther is finally here and it delivers on levels you may not expect. It takes place right after Captain America: Civil War, where T’Challa arrives at Wakanda to take his place as king. While he’s learning what it takes to be king, Erik, a mysterious man, is looking to dethrone him. Chadwick Boseman steps back into the role of Black Panther, and joining him are Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Leticia Wright, Daniel Kaluuya, Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis.
Ryan Coogler puts the story and characters first in this comic book film. The script allows you to really understand the perspectives of the opposing main characters. Black Panther, like some of the best MCU movies, is more than spectacle and comedy. The film really gets you thinking about relevant social issues, chiefly on whether or not the privileged have an obligation to share their good fortune with the rest of the world.
T’Challa and Erik Killmonger definitely draw comparisons to, and inspiration from, two famous Civil Rights leaders: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. The film’s best moments are in the dialogue between the protagonist and antagonist, rather than the fight scenes, which is impressive for a comic book movie.
Wakanda is a captivating world with incredible designs that you can get lost in. The Sci-Fi tech is creative and fun, making for some entertaining action. However, the best action scenes in the film are outside of the high-tech suits when T’Challa is momentarily stripped of his superior abilities. When Black Panther is in his suit, he’s not as impressive as when we see him for the first time in Captain America: Civil War. The CGI is also not very clean in some parts, especially in the big throw-down at the end that kind of feels like a video game.
Chadwick Boseman is fantastic as T’Challa/ Black Panther, and comes off as noble and intelligent. He is a soft-spoken, cool individual, but there is fire in his eyes when his family and home are in danger. Boseman is exceptional in conveying the internal struggle of T’Challa, especially when he has to deal with some of the hard truths he discovers.
Then there’s Erik Killmonger, one of the best MCU villains of all time. Michael B. Jordan is charismatic in the role, and plays opposite of Boseman very well. He is the driving force for T’Challa to grow as a character. It is easy to feel his pain and understand his point of view, making for a complex villain that the MCU doesn’t get very often. Although Andy Serkis as Klaue is a wild good time as the placeholder villain, the film could’ve benefited from a little more of Killmonger.
Every single supporting actor brings it, from Lupita Nyong’o to Leticia Wright; there are no weak links. One of my favorites is Danai Gurira as Okoye, a fierce protector of Wakanda who doesn’t hesitate to question the king, but will defend him with every breath she has in her as long as he’s on the throne. Gurira is ferocious in the role and owns every scene she is in.
Black Panther’s world is not simplified, and never flinches with the big topics it brings up. When the villain has a point, and the hero sees that point, the film becomes something more than just a popcorn flick. It’s a film that expands the MCU, as well as our minds.