Almost two years ago, Chadwick Boseman made his grand debut as the superhero Black Panther in Captain America Civil War. I noted that he made a fantastic first impression in his limited screen-time, and that I couldn’t wait to one day experience his first solo adventure. Thankfully, there’s a reason Black Panther is currently taking the world by storm: it’s freakin’ spectacular.
The story of a new king whose birthright is challenged as he struggles to keep the world’s political landscape in check, Panther isn’t your typical superhero saga. The political elements of the narrative take center stage, and that afford the film a sense of gravitas that you wouldn’t normally find in your usual blockbuster. In fact, Black Panther tackles some truly thought-provoking themes through its depiction of Wakanda, the fictional African nation at the center of the story. Here’s a country that’s thrived for centuries in secret isolation while the rest of the world has decayed into chaos and misery. At what point does man step up and help his fellow brothers? Is the greater good worth risking a sense of peace and security? Ryan Coogler’s film doesn’t provide easy answers, but different perspectives that all deserve a seat at the table. It’s the rare superhero film that can make you think, and for that the film deserves major props.
From a technical standpoint, this groundbreaking movie (with a predominately black cast) is a true marvel. Interestingly enough, it’s not the CGI that’s the selling point here, but the impeccable eye to detail in every frame. The set design, the costumes, the music – everything works together in beautiful harmony to bring to life a truly magical utopia. It’s the kind of absorbing world you can’t wait to spend more time in; I certainly can’t wait for the sequel!
As for noteworthy cast, well… everyone is in fine form here! As the hero of the story, Chadwick Boseman is reliably badass as T’Challa. His charisma is magnetic, and I’m ecstatic that he’ll be appearing in the upcoming Infinity War. Thankfully, the script gives equal attention to his nemesis: N’Jadaka played to duplicitous brilliance by Michael B. Jordan. I use the word nemesis with great care, because Michael (and the script) have crafted a villain whose motivations are completely believable. There’s no mustache-twirling baddie here, but complexity and a tragic backstory that fuel the present.
But that’s not even the best part. The film’s greatest success is its stellar lineup of female performers. Wonder Woman might have had one cheerworthy hero, but Black Panther has a whole army of them. Oscar Winner Lupita Nyong’o is endearing and brave as Nakia, an undercover spy and T’Challa’s former lover, Letitia Wright is witty and clever as T’Challa’s tech-whiz sister Shuri, and 911‘s Angela Bassett is a force as the formidable Queen Ramonda. However, it’s The Walking Dead‘s Danai Gurira who steals the show as Okoye, the head of the Dora Milaje (T’Challa’s all-female bodyguards). In fact, she owns the film’s greatest and most memorable action beats (that car chase was mindblowing) , and Marvel Studios would be wise to give the character her own spinoff. She’s just magnificent!
P.S. be sure to watch out for This Is Us‘ very own Sterling K. Brown who delivers an unforgettable guest turn!
A thrilling entry from Marvel Studios that’s brimming with complex characters, eye-popping action, and a surprisingly insightful narrative. Black Panther is just brilliant in every way!