Director: Ryan Coogler
Writers: Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole
Stars: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Andy Serkis
The first thing I will offer you is my initial reaction after watching “Black Panther”…
Set immediately following the death of King T’Chaka, prince T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) inherits the throne to the technologically advanced society of Wakanda. The leaders of Wakanda have disguised their nation as a third-world country for many years in order to preserve their peaceful way of life. As T’Challa prepares for his coronation ceremony in which members of various royal families can challenge him in ritual combat for the crown, he begins to contemplate the future of Wakanda, especially their outreach toward the rest of the world. His mother, sister, and former paramour all support T’Challa but have differing opinions on Wakanda’s responsibility to outside nations.
Meanwhile, Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) is in the process of executing his plan of revenge on Wakanda. He works with Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), a psychotic gang leader, and master thief, to steal a Wakandan artifact and sell it in an underground Korean casino. The CIA gets involved, and everything hits the fan.
Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, Danai Gurira as Okoye, Letitia Wright as Shuri, and Angela Bassett as Ramonda are so impressive and strong as the female leads in this film! All of the women, truthfully, do such an amazing job making the characters their own. In a film where the plot revolves around the fate of one young man, these women hold their own and carve out sections of the story that would leave the film hollow if they weren’t there. Danai Gurira’s part as Michone in “The Walking Dead” prepared her for this role, and she looks just as agile and fierce as Okoye, leader of the Kingsguard. Shuri, T’Chaka’s younger sister, runs the underground technology lab that creates the Black Panther suits and other gadgets. Her energy and interactions towards her brother provide a nice counterweight to the serious T’Chaka.
The character of Nakia impressed me above all, and her position as a love interest to our main character is unique in my eyes. Lupita Nyong’o’s desirability is undeniable, but her presence is strong and commanding. The character is a major hero, saving many of the key players at various points throughout the film. Her relationship with T’Chaka is complicated, but still loving. She is happy on her own, more than willing to provide support when he needs a friend but is otherwise unpersuaded by his regal position and immense wealth. Her work takes priority in her life, and she is a loud proponent of Wakanda exposing their power in order to help the rest of the world.
Michael B. Jordan must have pumped serious iron to achieve his chiseled physique for the role of Killmonger. He resembles Mahamad Ali (on steroids) and he fights with rage and incredible power. His fitness and physical strength are absolutely necessary for this role, and his prowess dominates the scenes in which he is present. The one major flaw in his performance is he is a little too out of control. This guy is supposed to be an elite Special Forces soldier with a gazillion assassinations under his belt. This man should be disciplined and incredibly calculating. His blind rage, though very exciting, is out of place. I imagine that a person with his qualifications would move with silent hatred, strategically using his words to beat these people at their own game. But instead, he blows through these scenes like the Koolaid man, which takes away from the more suspenseful moments in this film. However, he is one of the better villains in the Marvel Universe and really is a force to be reckoned with.
The weapons in Wakanda rival anything the rest of the world has ever seen, and Okoye even makes a remark about the primitiveness of guns. This is something that is often portrayed in the film, but the fact that a technological marvel is masquerading as a third world nation is such a satisfying twist.
“Black Panther” is officially one of my favorite Marvel films. It offers everything in the way of exciting cinema: a great story, a cast of interesting characters, and amazing visuals. Watching this film totally resurrected my interest in upcoming comic book inspired movies. “Black Panther” crushed it. This is one film I wish I would have watched in 3D. I usually buy standard theatre tickets, but the effects in this film are probably breathtaking in 3D. If you’re looking for something to do with the whole family over the weekend, this is a great film for kids as well. Give your kids and yourself a chance to marvel (ha!) at one of the great action films of the year- maybe even the decade.