Marvel’s BLACK PANTHER is about to explode in a way we have yet to see from the Marvel Cinematic Universe! Like the films before it, BLACK PANTHER has exciting action scenes, a humorous tone, and a great cast of supporting characters. But now, here is a lead superhero of African-American descent! The best part about it is that director Ryan Coogler doesn’t feel the need to keep reminding the viewers of the social implications. The story and characters unfold very smoothly and you never feel like you’re watching a Spike Lee film of the early 1990’s. Continue reading for our full BLACK PANTHER review.
~Review does contain minor spoilers~
BLACK PANTHER has been in the development stages since 1992 when Wesley Snipes went from studio to studio trying to get it produced. Call it fate, but the times needed to catch up with what BLACK PANTHER can do. BLACK PANTHER is to 2018 what Wonder Woman was to 2017. Wonder Woman blew the doors wide open as to what someone other than a white male can do as a leading hero. Now, BLACK PANTHER will pick up the ball and run far and fast! This film is going to do to superheros what Michael Jackson did to music in the 1980’s – bring a world-wide cross-over audience. When we can view it as a superhero film without saying a superhero film with a black hero, we’ve come a long way.
If you’re wondering where we’ve seen T’Challa (aka Black Panther, played by Chadwick Boseman) before, he fought alongside Iron Man in 2016’s CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR. BLACK PANTHER picks up a week after the Vienna bombing where T’Challa’s father, the king of the African nation of Wakanda, had died. T’Challa returns home to the isolated but very advanced nation of Wakanda to take his place as King and protector. Wakanda has kept its head low since it harbors the earth’s most precious resource, Vibranium. Since T’Challa and his people have kept this secret for thousands of years, the rest of the world has yet to know of this technological marvel (except for a few including Tony Stark and Ulysses Klaue played by Andy Serkis). However, when T’Challa returns to Wakanda after the Vienna bombing, his title as King and Black Panther is tested by an unexpected enemy that puts the entire fate of Wakanda and the world at risk.
There are so many great themes that are woven in this very tight script by Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole. While Wakanda has isolated themselves in an effort to keep their extremely valuable Vibranium safe from the greedy outside world, T’Challa and his sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) feel that they have to share this rare element in order to help the world that is falling apart around them. They can easily fix problems exploding around them with their technology, wealth and the world’s most durable metal.
Do you know who shares that same viewpoint? The villainous Erik Killmonger, played by Michael B. Jordan who disappears in this role as one of the best Marvel bad guys ever! He was once a Black Ops mercenary and he has seen the destruction that has fallen all around him. However, he still holds a grudge about slavery and he has a score to settle. While he is the bad guy, there are times you find yourself siding with him.
BLACK PANTHER features not one, not two, but FOUR fully rounded-out female characters. Each woman offers wisdom and advice to T’Challa as they navigate through this trying period in Wakanda’s history. His mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett), his sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) who is a scientist, engineer and doctor; his lead warrior Okoye (Danai Gurira) and his ex-girlfriend and Wakanda spy, Nakia (Lupita N’yongo). This female presence is refreshing and real. The ladies aren’t in a contest for T’Challa’s affection, each has a meaningful relationship with him and their country.
Especially striking are Okoye and her team of female warriors, sporting shaved heads and beautiful tattoos. The whole idea of them gives a different meaning to the word “beautiful” as it applies to women. These warriors are called the Dora Milage, and they have dedicated their life to protecting the ruler of Wakanda.
However, Letitia Wright as Shuri steals the show. She is one of the smartest characters in the MCU, but Letitia never plays her as a stuffy, awkward scientist but as a real teen who happens to be super smart. She never misses an opportunity to play off of Chadwick Boseman as a younger sibling and everything she does feels genuine. I can’t wait to see more of her in this summer’s AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR!
As superhero movies go, BLACK PANTHER is more introspective. There may not be as many action scenes as we’re now used to seeing in Marvel movies, but there is one fantastic battle sequence in an underground casino which leads to a street race unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Expect to see Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) and Agent Ross (Martin Freeman) in top form, as well as some amazing technology courtesy of vibranium.
BLACK PANTHER has cemented Ryan Coogler as a director who can deliver. Not only can he work within a well established franchise, but he can bring his own voice. He brings out the best in his actors and you can see each one is 100% committed. The director and the actors know that this film is about loyalty, helping others and knowing that you have to work hard to get what you want. Expect a lot of fist-pumping since this film is full of moments that make you feel like you’re on top of the highest peak of Wakanda!
Want to hear more about the BLACK PANTHER Press Conference, making of the film and BLACK PANTHER’s Comic Book origins? ScreenRant’s Joe Deckelmeier joins us for podcast episode 202 of Skywalking Through Neverland:
Video Footage begins at 7 minutes, 15 seconds in.