The film Black Panther, a Marvel movie directed by Ryan Coogler, is a different brand of superhero movie that destroys many of the tropes that are expected from the genre. The film outlines the rise of T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) to the throne of Wakanda, a Central African country that has hidden itself from the rest of the world, despite the fact that it houses vibranium, the most powerful substance in the universe.
The beginning of the film brings T’Challa’s father, T’Chaka (John Kani) to Oakland to bring his brother N’Jobu (Sterling K. Brown) back to Wakanda. After a dispute that transpires in Captain America: Civil War, T’Chaka loses his life and T’Challa must become the Black Panther. After a customary passage to the throne, Erik Killmonger (Michael B.Jordan), the forgotten son of N’Jobu, comes to challenge.
Jordan’s villain might be the best of any one of the Marvel villains. With a right to the throne and a firm belief that moving away from isolationism is the right move makes him a sympathetic character along with being the most powerful foe whom we have seen so far.
The supporting cast is also great. Andy Serkis, as the arms dealer Klaue, does an awesome job of driving the plot along. As a crazy vibranium dealer who relishes the thrill of the chase, Serkis shows his action chops outside of his usual motion-capture performances for which he is known. Angela Bassett as the Queen Ramonda also gives a powerful performance. She is regal and wise, and brings much energy to the film.
The breakout performance of the film is from Letitia Wright, who plays T’Challa’s sister. Being the equivalent of Q from the James Bond franchise, she adapts Black Panther’s costume and gadgets to maximize his abilities. She brings a lot of humor and fun to the film and Wright is definitely a rising star.
Marvel films of late have tried to interweave the other heroes of the franchise into the film to bring all of the stories together for the upcoming Avengers:Infinity War. Black Panther breaks this mold by creating a standalone superhero movie that goes away from the standard origin story that has been the formula for the introduction of most of the franchise’s films.
The movie brings a lot of traditional African elements to the characters without being over the top or kitschy. The tribes of the region are united in a mutual respect for one another, and it is interesting to watch when they gather to name a new king. There are many elements of the film that feel almost Lion King-esque (in a good way) with T’Challa communicating with leaders of the past in order to make the right decisions.
Black Panther begs many questions that are pertinent to society today. Boseman as T’Challa is a formidable leader and always stands up for what is right, but is forced to question his own morals in order to do what is best for Wakanda. Jordan’s Killmonger brings much of a gray area to the quintessential villain and leaves the audience wondering if his aggressive stance may be the correct one. The high-flying action mixed with the social overtones make for an extremely entertaining and interesting movie.
The film, along with breaking many barriers, is an extremely action-packed romp for all comic book fans (and even non-comic book fans) to enjoy. As is customary of each of the Marvel movies, there are a couple of post credit scenes, so don’t leave until the lights come on.