The Black Panther Reviewed
Black Panther is the 18th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and takes place a week after the events of Captain America: Civil War. The last king of Wakanda, T’Chaka, died following an explosion at the United Nations now his son T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is set to become the country’s new king and the Black Panther, protector of Wakanda. But there are several challenges to his throne and a mercenary looking to sell the country’s most valuable resource, vibranium, on the black market.
The success of a superhero movie hinges on its villain. While most villains want to rule the world or destroy the world, the rationale behind it is usually “because I want to.” Michael B. Jordan plays Erik Killmonger and is one of the most fully-formed characters in the Marvel Universe. Sure, he's trying to kill our hero so we have to root against him; however, his rationale for doing so made me take pause and question – maybe we should hear this guy out. He has a line towards the end of the movie that vaulted him up to quite possibly my favorite movie villain of all time. It all helps that Jordan is one of the best young actors working out there. His performance and this character take this movie to another level.
Black Panther is not as funny as some of the more recent Marvel movies, but that’s never really who the Black Panther was. Don't get me wrong—there are funny parts to this movie. Martin Freeman in particular, stands out as a comedic mouthpiece and clueless American. However, the Black Panther himself needs to be forthright and strong, and having him make a lot of quips during a fight would betray that.
There isn’t a bad Marvel movie out there, but Black Panther stands out to me because it is not just a great superhero movie, it’s a great movie. Beyond the costumes and stunts, this movie deals with questions of identity, responsibility, and what we owe to the people around us. Director Ryan Coogler is forcing the audience to think about what we believe in even within the framework of an entertaining blockbuster. The Black Panther is arguably the MCU’s most complete movie and should be the bar for what we expect going forward. A
P.S. Stay tuned for two after credit scenes that help set up the role Wakanda plays in the next movie Avengers: Infinity War.