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Black Panther

As I write this review, 7 days after the release of BLACK PANTHER, the film has already become a cultural phenomenon. Raking in a staggering $275 million within this time frame, it has already obliterated any and all financial expectations. More importantly, it not only stands as an incredible progression for the Marvel cinematic universe, but the industry as a whole.

After the death of his father, King T’Chaka (in the events that played out in CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR,) T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is set to sit upon the throne of the African country of Wakanda  To the outside world, the country is poverty-stricken and helpless. The truth, however, is that Wakanda is a technologically advanced paradise. This is because, centuries ago, an asteroid collided with earth. Inside the massive rock was vibranium the most powerful element in the universe. The Wakandans realized that if the element was ingested, the person who consumed it was blessed with a slew of
supernatural powers that include speed, agility, and strength. For generations, the
reigning king would ingest a heart-shaped herb that contained the mysterious element, and assume the identity of the Black Panther. He then assumed the responsibility of
serving as the protector of his people and their secrets.

T’Challa must wrestle with the typical responsibilities and burdens that come with being a king, but he must also live with the fact that there are suffering people across the globe who could benefit from the knowledge and technology possessed by his homeland. He must also take into account that if the element were to fall in the wrong hands, the results could be catastrophic. While the vibranium can be used for good and just purposes, it can also be weaponized. This could lead to catastrophic consequences that could decimate the entire world as we know it. There are few outside of the boundaries of the country that are aware of its hidden powers, but one of these is Erik “Killmonger” Stevens
(Michael B. Jordan). Stevens has his own dark connection to the Black Panther, and sets out to put his own personal agenda into motion with the help of an old Wakandan adversary, Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis.)

I have mentioned it before, but after more than a decade of continuous releases, I am definitely feeling a heavy dose of superhero fatigue. I’ve been largely disappointed with the recent releases set within the DC universe (with the exception of WONDER WOMAN), and while Marvel productions are a sizable step-up, I’m even getting a little weary of them. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: VOLUME 2 and SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING were fun, but felt as if they were existing as nothing more than an uninspired progression towards the next AVENGERS installment. In addition, there are now so many characters weaving their way in and out of these films, that it is rare to see a centralized story featuring title-specific entities that can stand on their own. This is where BLACK PANTHER found a way to set itself apart from the rest of its Marvel brethren. 

For those expecting a slew of unexpected cameos and familiar Marvel characters, you are going to be largely disappointed. While there are plotlines and minor characters that exist within the universe (Martin Freeman’s Ross being one notable exception) BLACK PANTHER is a film that doesn’t need to rely on the help of others to succeed.

The film itself has a vibe to it that is so completely different than anything that has come before it, that it feels as if it is an entirely separate entity from its
predecessors. Visually stunning in a way no other Marvel film has been, every aspect of the production is remarkable. From its spellbinding settings, to its
seamless special effects, to its unique characters and their lavish costumes, it’s a feast for the eyes in almost each and every frame. Beyond this, director Ryan Coogler’s beautiful film has a depth that is missing from virtually all of its counterparts. There is genuine emotion that fueled each and every character, and in the hands of the pitch-perfect cast (Boseman, Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett, Freeman, and Serkis) it allows BLACK PANTHER to become far more than your typical superhero blockbuster. Rather than interjecting storylines that serve as mere filler to get to the next action sequence, the story itself is filled with drama and suspense. There is palpable torture and hurt that fuels Stevens’ seemingly evil actions, and thanks to yet another phenomenal turn from rising star Jordan, he becomes one of the most memorable villains Marvel has seen in years. As his foil, Boseman is a fallible hero who struggles to decide what is right for his people, and the world. The fate of humanity may very well rest in his hands, and he certainly does not take the responsibility lightly. The conflicted nature of the two main characters propels the story, so when the bombastic battle sequences do arise, they feels more like a payoff than an obligation.

With all of these unique elements fusing cohesively together, the result is an endlessly entertaining and original production that elevates the superhero genre to unexpected new heights.

A special thanks goes to Regal Cinemas at Destiny USA for allowing me to attend this month’s film.

Black Panther


RUN TIME: 2h 15min

GENRE: Fantasy, Sci-Fi

STARRING: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Andy Serkis,
Martin Freeman, Lupita Nyong’o

DIRECTORs: Ryan Coogler

Writers: Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole


Brian Miller