Possible spoilers ahead!
“Black Panther” picks up shortly after the events of “Captain America: Civil War,” as T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) prepares to take over the throne of Wakanda, following the death of his father King T’Chaka (John Kani).
However, as soon as T’Challa becomes King, the country’s old enemy, Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), emerges from hiding when he steals a rare Wakandan artifact made of Vibranium from a British museum.
T’Challa, along with Okoye (Danai Guirra), and his ex girlfriend Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), travel to Soth Korea to track down Klaue and bring him to justice for all. But it turns out Klaue is just the middle man to a far more dangerous enemy: Eric “Killmonger” Stevens (Michael B. Jordan), a determined young man who will threaten T’Challa’s reign as king.
The only word I can use to describe “Black Panther” is.. epic.
This movie surprised me at every turn, and I left the theatre feeling like I had just witnessed something special. “Black Panther” delivered on every promise it made, and then some. From the world-building that brings the hidden land of Wakanda to life, to the message that people are only as good as their leaders, this movie was an event.
T’Challa’s arc in “Black Panther” is not one of a superhero, but one about leadership, ideals, and global isolationism and how they can impact people in Wakanda and all over the world. Chadwick Boseman has a presence unlike any other superhero. When he speaks, you listen. And because he has such command of a scene, its easy to belive he could be a king.
Meanwhile, Michael B. Jordan’s Eric “Killmonger” Stevens is easily the most compelling Marvel film villain since Loki. Killmonger is also the most sympathetic of all the villains thus far. We may not like his methods, but perhaps he’s making some valid points. Despite the haircut the filmmakers gave Jordan, I’d say this is his best work yet.
As good as the lead actors are, the show stealers in “Black Panther” are the women in T’Challa’s life, like Okoye (Danai Guirra) and Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o). Both ladies are essential to the film’s plot, and each actress deliver powerhouse performances. Okoye and Nakia have great moments throughout the film, and even have some of the film’s best lines.
But easily my favorite character in “Black Panther” was T’Challa’s tech genius younger sister Shuri (Letitia Wright). As soon as she flipped off T’Challa, she became a fan-favorite. But her tech savy is what made her stand out. She’s brilliant at what she does, and I’m hoping she becomes a bigger part of the MCU going forward, not just in a Black Panther sequel.
There are too many other supporting players in “Black Panther” for me to mention here. But I will say that all of them felt like fully fledged characters. Even the ones that didn’t get as much screen time, it was like you knew who they were, what they did, and what motivated their actions or inactions. This sort of things is almost unheard of in a comic book movie, so kudos tot he filmmakers for accomplishing this.
“Black Panther” is an exceptional film, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have one or two minor issues with the movie. First off, at least a couple of the action sequences take place at night or in a dark location. Normally this wouldn’t be a huge issue, but when the titular hero is wearing an entirely black suit, it becomes difficult to tell what is going on in the screen.
My only other complaint is about the CGI. While I realize a movie like “Black Panther” must have a fair amount of computer generated moments, I was surprised where it was used. Fors instance, during the car chase in South Korea, at least one of the cars appears to be fake. And later in the film, almost all of the stampeding rhinos were CGI creations.
Now, obviously Marvel wouldn’t be able to use a herd or real rhinos for this sequence. But I was a little disappointed at how fake all the rhinos looked in a movie that features some excellent CGI effects. Even the car in the chase stood out, and we know Marvel can do solid car chases. Just look back at the Nick Fury scenes from “Captain America” to see what I’m talking about.
And yet, despite these two complaints, I can’t take anything away from “Black Panther.” This is one of the best MCU movies yet and a historic moment for big-budget films, when it comes to incredible cast and direction.
In the end though, “Black Panther” is a movie that has something important to say, but it never preaches, nor does it forget the super heroics. This is one film that is worth seeing again, and again.
“Black Panther” final score: A+