Release Date: February 16, 2018
Director: Ryan Coogler
Writer: Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole
Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Sterling K. Brown, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis, Florence Kasumba, John Kani, David S. Lee, Nabiyah Be, Isaach De Bankole, Connie Chiume, Dorothy Steel, Danny Sapani, Sydelle Noel, Marija Juliette Abney, Zola Williams, Janeshia Adams-Ginyard, Maria Hippolyte, Marie Mouroum, Jenel Stevens, Sope Aluko, Stan Lee, Atandwa Kani, AshtonTyler, Denzel Whitaker
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 134 minutes
Production Company: Marvel Studios, Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
With this being Marvel Studios 18th film in their cinematic universe, there have been a few echoes that the material is beginning to go stale. Fortunately, that’s not remotely the case with Black Panther. With this release, the studio dove deep into their treasure chest of creativity to deliver something fresh, new, and satisfying that’s simply groundbreaking. Not only does it appear that this massive success train isn’t slowing down, but it also seems that the studio is just beginning to scratch the surface for what they have in store for the next couple of decades. Marvel is on fire right now being hotter than ever, and that’s so apparent with this latest film in their flourishing franchise. Black Panther is unlike any other film that they’ve produced before, and with all the talent in front, and behind the camera, it’s a collective display of mesmerizing beautiful Blackness that I could set on repeat and watch over, and over again.
Following the events of Captain America: Civil War (2016), King T’Chaka (John Kani) met his demise, and his son T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) must now take up the mantle of King, as well as the position of Black Panther back in their native country Wakanda. What director Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Creed) does so well during this transition of power is the way he unravels the world of Wakanda for the audience. Shown through the eyes of T’Challa as he takes up the throne, the audience gets to witness the beautiful lush kingdom and all it has to offer. It’s a true marvel (pun intended) to see feeling real, and the culture and pride that the characters possess is something to be proud of, even if it isn’t your place to call home. All of the advancements in technology felt tangible, having real-world applications that would suit the entire population today. It was a breathtaking experience to see such an astonishing land that’s never been conquered by outside forces, and every moment you were there, you were eager to learn more.
The cast, of course, was top notch from Chadwick Boseman, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Michael B. Jordan, Sterling K. Brown, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, and more that gave it their all with every line of dialogue they had. It was clear this was a passion project, and a dream come true for all those involved. It was as if they were giving their last performance ever, wanting it to be the most memorable than anything they’ve taken before. There wasn’t one performance that wasn’t surprising, and that especially goes for Mr. Jordan as the villainous mercenary Erik Killmonger. In past comic book releases, there haven’t been too many villains that stood out leaving such a powerful performance. The best still goes to Heath Ledgers The Joker (The Dark Knight) still holding that crown posthumously, but Michael B. Jordan comes in at a close 2nd. While I loved the arc, Boseman went through on screen being a new man he’s never been before, feeling all his pain, and suffering, I still felt Killmonger’s even more. His role nearly had me in tears. Not only could I sympathize with Killmonger, but I could also empathize with him as well. The real world inner conflict that was tearing him apart is felt the same from millions, if not billions around the world, which touched my soul, and is a true testament on how well the writing department did for this film. It’s always said that a great villain feels they’re right. Killmonger didn’t only feel right but was right even though I didn’t completely agree with his methods of accomplishing his goal.
Let’s not forget about the ladies though. I can’t stress enough how wonderful it felt to see so many beautiful, strong shades of melanin on screen at one time. These women were everything you’d want them to be and more. Shout out to my lovely dark chocolate sisters too, and I’m overjoyed for all the little girls around the world that can now look up to strong, fierce women that look like themselves even though the culture may not be the same. In some instances, they even outshined the titular character Black Panther, but at the same time, there are no complaints here. They were all fierce, strong, smart, funny, intelligent beautiful angels on the screen that were Black, Blackity Blackity Black, and I loved every moment of it.
The story was most impressive which is extremely important and what I anticipated even more than the action. I didn’t want just another heroic adventure with no substance to back it up. My wish came true with the plot serving the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole, while still able to stand alone, and addressing political issues that the world faces today. I was honestly shocked. Criticism has floated around about the Black Panther comic for a while as to why such a rich kingdom wouldn’t involve itself in the world, and without spoiling anything, I’m glad to say that issue came up, and was a driving force to wrap up the story. The background of all the different tribes is a great selling point as well. There isn’t just pointless bickering infighting between them either. While they’re all different with their beliefs and customs, the inner conflict between them in a real genuine one where I could understand all sides that needed to be worked out.
I’d be surprised if this film didn’t receive any recognition during the next awards season for what it all accomplished, that no other previous Marvel film deserves. The score by Ludwig Gorrasson and soundtrack by Kendrick Lamar is by far the best combination of music of any previous Marvel film by far. There’s no question with that. I’ll just say, buy the soundtrack! The cinematography by Rachel Morrison (Dope) on screen was to die for as well. Every frame of the entire film popped with vibrant colors, as if it were a rainbow on screen with every other scene. There was not one moment where you didn’t have something gorgeous to look at during the screening. So when you tie that in with the extravagant costume designs by Ruth E. Carter, it’s nearly impossible not to fall in love with all the magic that was being displayed.
Even though I adored this film dearly, it still isn’t perfect, and nearly no film is. While it achieved so much in multiple areas of entertainment, the action set pieces weren’t as gratifying as some of the past Marvel films. I remember geeking back and forth in my seat during certain scenes of Captain America: Civil War, and others, but that type of emotion wasn’t here especially in the last battle of engagement. This is in no way saying the action is sour, and there were a few points where it succeeded where it needed to. The one on one battles at the waterfall with the surrounding tribes was one of the best parts, but towards the end, the excess or CGI felt a bit cartoony, and didn’t have the same charisma that I’m used to.
That’s my only gripe, and everything else was nothing short of phenomenal. It’s clear that everyone involved pushed even harder to accomplish such a remarkable artful film. This only gets me more excited about projects that studio has to come in the near future. There has never been a movie done this way in all of film history, and without a doubt, it will stand the test of time. I’m so thrilled that it was made because, as a fan of the source material, I never dreamed a film of this caliber would ever be made. While I’m not African but African American, I’m still proud of the representation on screen. Even if you can’t relate on that level, the film is still a masterpiece on some levels that all backgrounds of life can enjoy, and I’m beyond ecstatic for more.