"BLACK PANTHER" Movie Review
“Conquer or be conquered.” That is the general tone of Black Panther, the newest film added to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It blends together a piece of foreshadowing that encompasses the plotline engineered throughout the Marvel franchise. But instead of the all-inclusive battle of good vs. evil, Black Panther takes a different approach to the superhero cultivation we have come to expect with Marvel comic adaptations. Instead, the film sheds light on political advocacy and distribution of resources while throwing in a few action-packed sequences that combine the perfect mix of suspense and humor.
The film starts off in the African nation of Wakanda. While the residents of this nation appear to occupy a third world country, Wakanda has a secret city made up of advanced technology that runs off vibranium which makes Wakanda a potential resource for supplying worldwide improvement in technology. But like in real life, what can be used to create good in the world, can also create something potentially deadly. To avoid such a possibility, the nation of Wakanda does not expose their use of vibranium to the world and they run on their own natural resources, refusing any assistance from the outside world.
The technological nation of Wakanda.
The main plot focuses on T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), the new king of Wakanda, assuming the thrown after his father’s death. Throughout the film we see him battle arms dealers and his new opponent, Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) while trying to prove his worth as King of Wakanda. Once Killmonger, who is a U.S. black-ops soldier, makes his way to Wakanda, revealing his identity as T’Challa’s cousin, his ultimate goal is to defeat T’Challa in the ritual, making him the new King of Wakanda and to use the vibranium that the nation of Wakanda has kept secret and distribute it as a weapon to operatives globally.
Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger.
Like any Marvel movie, there is a perfect unity of apprehension and amusement during the action sequences and I don’t think I’ve ever seen this mixture displayed so well in a Marvel film. Quite possibly my favorite sequence in Black Panther is the car chase scene in South Korea in which the Black Panther is soaring through the city of Busan trying to seize Klaue (Andy Serkis) while his female bodyguard Okoye (Danai Gurira) stands on the hood of the car in her elegant red flowy gown while holding a spear, being driven by T’Challa’s ex-lover Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o). It’s a heart pounding action sequence but some funny moments are thrown in as well. Toward the end of the film, just when it seems all hope is lost and the Wakanda tribes are battling against T’Challa due to the orders of their new leader Killmonger, the writers of the film find the perfect spots to throw in a couple of humorous jolts.
Danai Gurira as Okoye, T'Challa's Bodyguard.
And can we just talk about the incredible cinematography and the visual depiction of the fictional nation of Wakanda? The design of this land is so well thought out and seems so authentic. It’s certainly unlike anything the film creators behind Marvel have done before. This is something that could have easily faltered in it’s illustration but the creators behind Black Panther really did a great job at capturing not only the main characters in the film, but also highlighting the people of Wakanda and the tribes that they come from.
And speaking of characters in the film, while its clearly understood that T’Challa is the main protagonist, the real strength comes from the people behind him, the ones who rebel once Killmonger takes power over Wakanda, in particular The Dora Milaje who are a group of women who work as guards/soldiers for T’Challa. I mean, any chance Okoye can get her own spin-off movie? That would be an epic film experience! And let’s not forget Princess Shuri, T’Challa’s younger sister who is basically the brains behind Wakanda’s technological advancements with vibranium. You do not want to mess with the women in Wakanda. They will surely put you in your place.
Don't mess with the Dora Milaje.
Already bringing in over $200 million at the box office during its opening weekend, you can’t really estimate the success of a Marvel film based off ticket transactions. What sets this film apart from prior Marvel comic adaptations is that there is a unique quality to this movie that was apparent throughout. The special effects utilized prove that the creators behind these images in the Marvel Universe have found their footing and if this is what we have to look forward to with the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War (which also features the Black Panther), Marvel comic fans will be rejoicing throughout the world.
What I really liked about Black Panther was that throughout most of the film, I didn’t feel like I was watching a superhero movie at all. I felt as though I was watching a political dilemma amongst a hierarchy in which they must choose to share their wealth and their resources with the world or keep their capital to themselves to stay unified as one nation. I know that description may not sound super appealing to a comic book fan walking into the theatre expecting two hours of jam-packed action. But take my word for it, Black Panther gets it right on just about every level.
I admit, superhero movies are not my go-to thing. I will watch them because I am aware that in today’s world, they bring in the biggest crowd and unheard of box office returns. But Black Panther has set a completely new standard in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s special effects, cutting edge design, and star-studded cast make this movie a shining achievement in filmmaking.