Marvel's Black Panther Review
Black Panther, now playing, is Marvel Studios’ 18th film and feels quite unlike the other standalone Avengers movies, featuring a superhero with a purpose.
After the death of his father, T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns home to the African nation of Wakanda to take his rightful place as king. When a powerful enemy suddenly reappears, T'Challa's mettle as king -- and as Black Panther -- gets tested when he's drawn into a conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people.
Until now, either from DC or Marvel cinematic universes, big-screen superheroes have usually been white dudes who are either put on this earth from a different planet (like Superman or Thor for example) or created by the U.S. military (take Captain America for instance) to defend the world from enemies. Co-written and directed by Ryan Coogler, Black Panther is a different and exceptional kind of comic book movie, featuring and nearly all-black cast that focus more on the fiction nation of Wakanda. And what distinguishes Black Panther from past Marvel flicks works to this film’s advantage.
Coogler has assembled a predominantly black cast, casting some of the best actors around from Chadwick Boseman (comes materfully into his own and plays the character with unforced, charismatic ease) to Michael B. Jordan (who redeems himself after his Fantastic Four film bombed), and features legends such as Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett. Compared to other Marvel films, Black Panther holds its own and improves the formula in several key areas, from a politically engaged villain to an emotionally grounded final showdown.
Sterling K. Brown (This is Us) and Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out) bring poetry and seriousness to roles that go far beyond mere support. Danai Gurira (The Walking Dead) steals every scene she is in as an indomitable who is quite handy with a spear.
Coolger and his creative team have enlarged and revitalized the outlines of a traditional comic book arc by drawing on elements from African history and tribal culture. Black Panther flourishes with color, vibrancy and layered textural beauty, from the beadwork and spectacular costumes by Ruth Carter and the dazzling eye-catching production designs by Hannah Beachler, from hairstyles, tattoos and scarification, giving and ancient and novel feel.
It’s the actors commitment and attention to craft and detail that help elevate Black Panther to amazing heights, whether they are surfing on top of a car during a chase, arguing against a backdrop of a beautiful futuristic city or in an ancestral plane talking with their deceased elders. And, they dominate the screen in a movie that is rooted firmly in their own history and narratives, they provide an exhilarating cinema experience. Black Panther is a masterpiece and a fantastic addition to the ever expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe. Long live the king.