Directed by Ryan Coogler
Film Review by Nicholas Haberling
I have to admit that after ten years of superhero movies I wasn’t excited for this film. When the Marvel Cinematic Universe took off in 2008 after the first Iron Man it was incredible to see these comic book heroes re-imagined with modern technology. But over time the films lost gravitas. I still go to them because they’re a fun ride for two hours but aside from the last two Captain America films I wasn’t impressed. That is until I saw Black Panther on Friday night.
Black Panther serves as our first introduction to the fictional country of Wakanda. Wakanda has the largest supply of the metal vibranium and has used this resource to develop advanced technology which includes the ability to make their primary city invisible. This has given them the ability to appear as an underdeveloped nation to the rest of the world, thus escaping unwanted attention. While this could have been just a throw-away fact about Wakanda, it is used throughout the film to point out a divisive social issue. For the past 500 or so years the African continent has been abused by various foreign powers. Why don’t the technologically powerful Wakandans do anything about it?
Black Panther has an all-star cast comprised of Forest Whitaker, Lupita Nyong'o, and Danai Gurira, among others. However, for the sake of brevity we will be focusing on the characters T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and N'Jadaka (Michael B. Jordan).
For those of us that remember Captain America: Civil War, the former King of Wakanda was killed in a terrorist attack, leaving his son T’Challa the monarchy and title of the Black Panther. Black Panther picks up shortly after these events with T’Challa returning home and claiming his right to the throne. Admittedly, T’Challa doesn’t evolve much as a character. He is likable, honorable and a just leader. What brings his character to life is how he struggles to reconcile the decisions of leaders that came before him.
Black Panther could have had the racist and gun-running Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) be the main villain of the film. Instead it gave us a three dimensional adversary with N'Jadaka. I can’t go into detail about his character because of the risk of entering spoiler territory. Instead, I will say there are scenes in this film where you see how this character came to be, and you want him to make the right choice, but at the same time you understand where his frame of mind is.
Black Panther is easily one of the best films the Marvel Cinematic Universe has released. Like the others it has incredible special effects and is well directed. Unlike some of the other films it gives us an added bonus of great characters combined with a world that takes itself seriously. The banter and jokes between characters feels real and doesn’t take you out of the film. Everything feels grounded in the fictional world we are watching. In short, if we get more superhero films like Black Panther then I think I can watch another ten years of these movies