Director: Ryan Coogler
Producer: Kevin Feige
Writers: Ryan Coogler & Joe Robert Cole
Starring Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker,and Andy Serkis.
After being crowned king of Wakanda—an isolated, but technologically advanced nation in Africa—T’Challa must guide his country through conflicts within and beyond its closely-guarded borders…
As of now, this is my favorite MCU movie by a wide margin. I applaud everything that Ryan Coogler and Kevin Feige accomplished with this movie. To me this movie is different than anything before, it which is a good thing. It’s a great thing.
The first thing you notice about this movie is the cast. This cast is stacked with talent from top to bottom. You might be able to find other movies out there filled with black talent on par with this, but I think you would struggle to find that in another superhero movie. Everyone acts well within their parts and feels believable to me. Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan make it a point to shine in their respective roles even with veterans Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett present. The Dora Millaje all move and fight like they are the real deal and Shuri—T’Challa’s younger sister—is quite hilarious with her one liners. She also balances the comedy with actual technical know-how, as she is considered the smartest individual in the MCU. M’Baku also made a great impression in the movie. They didn’t call him “Man Ape” like in the comics for various reasons, but he was very recognizable when he first appeared.
The costumes are also very well done. The Black Panther costume is straight forward as we saw in Civil War. Again, everyone else looks the part and communicates to the viewer that culture and African heritage were taken serious throughout filming. You also get parts where they communicate in their native tongue like for example, early on in the interrogation scene. I enjoyed that because it again it shows that they’re a different people with different traditions and customs. The movie really sold the fact that outside of Wakanda, they were in foreign lands with customs that were strange compared to their own. The land of Wakanda as shown looks and feels like Africa. Even though Coogler didn’t film there, I wouldn’t have known that had I not researched it. Everything feels like we’re in the heart of Africa, getting a glimpse of this secretive nation.
The villains really come through here. People have used villains as a longstanding criticism of the MCU. I think this is another area where Black Panther outdoes its competition with room to spare. Andy Serkis gives a great performance as Klaw; equal parts hilarious and savage, we got to know him initially in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Unfortunately, he has managed to be a thorn in T’Challa’s side for years in the comics and continues to be so in the movies where he has eluded capture for almost 3 decades. I thoroughly enjoyed his take on Ulysses Klaw and hope we see more of him in the future even though Killmonger might have made that easier said than done.
The other main villain is Erik Killmonger, played by Michael B Jordan. Over the course of the movie, we discover his elaborate plot to take over Wakanda and seize the throne. He was a villain that one could relate to in a way and understand why he would feel the way he does. Killmonger’s father was killed by T’Challa’s father early in the movie and left him to fend for himself as a young boy. He took that rage and channeled it into his ongoing plan. Killmonger received training through the military and CIA to slowly gather the skills he needed. Once he was ready, he hatched his plan and defeating T’Challa in hand-to-hand combat and becoming king of Wakanda himself. He was definitely a villain, but as I said: some could maybe understand he didn’t have to be. Michael B Jordan portrayed the best and the worst, wanting to honor his father, but having the mindset that he would stop at nothing to get there. Plenty of the things he said during the movie stuck with me long after viewing. I’ll catch flack for saying this, but his performance easily rivals the best MCU villains and I believe it’ll be considered iconic maybe not now, but later. I saw comparisons to Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight. I’ll say Michael B. Jordan did some of the same things, killing someone close to the protagonist and creating chaos through his city. He did one better though, beating T’Challa in combat unlike the Joker did to Batman. His portrayal will live long after this movie fades from the limelight.
The other things I liked were the action scenes. When the action happens, you get the feeling that T’Challa really is more than human after ingesting the herb they mention during the ritual combat scenes. He and the Doras are expertly trained and they do a great job selling that. Knowing that Wakanda is a technologically advanced location got me excited to see the type of tech at their disposal. I was impressed with the CGI and special effects overall. I’ve never been a big guy on CGI use as you have to use it sometimes and there is no way around it. I loved the scenes where they demonstrated anything involving technology. They want us all to know when it comes to anything like that, Wakanda is not only adequate but, the world’s leading experts.
I do have some gripes with the movie. One of my main complaints is Killmonger and Klaw both dying. Personally, I think both villains are great and Killmonger was very developed. I feel Marvel threw all of that away in having Black Panther kill him at the end. The same thing with Klaw; I feel he hasn’t been around as much as he should. He’s made an impression considering his time in this movie and in Avengers: Age of Ultron, but I feel he shouldn’t have gotten killed. I also felt Killmonger’s reign as king was too brief. I wish the movie had that scene last a bit longer. I’m sure they had to stay within their run time, but I would have liked to see more of what Killmonger would have done within Wakanda. Also, though Shuri is still the smartest person in the MCU, T’Challa should have had some more time to shine with his own intelligence. Not a huge gripe, but hopefully the sequel shows some more smarts on his side. I didn’t want this to turn into something like Christopher Nolan’s trilogy where Batman has the majority of his gear developed for him with very little input. T’Challa should be intelligent enough to have input and create his own gear and tech to aid him. Lastly, I would have liked to get some participation from Bast the panther goddess. Hopefully, these things can be rectified in a sequel.