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Following the death of his father in Captain America: Civil War, Prince T’Challa(Chadwick Boseman) prepares to take up the throne as the next king of the highly-advanced African country-- Wakanda. He also continues his superhero missions as the Black Panther. Meanwhile, Ulysses Klaw(played by Andy Serkis, who debuted in Avengers: Age of Ultron) teams up with Killmonger(Michael B. Jordan), an American who wants to challenge T’Challa and Wakandan traditions.
Directed by Ryan Coogler, Black Panther is one of the Marvel’s best movies. And after being released February 14, it has already earned $1.2 billion plus worldwide. It also boasts 97% critic approval on Rotten Tomatoes. What makes yet another superhero flick work so well?
Firstly, Black Panther has some of the best worldbuilding I’ve ever seen in a movie. Most of it takes place in the fictionalized Wakanda where the visuals and cultural influences were stunning. By the credits, a viewer could explain the Wakandian political structure, its foreign policies, its throning protocol, and even some of its religion.
Secondly, Black Panther stars layered characters. T’Challa struggles with his new responsibilities and choosing between traditional and new values. Killmonger presents a grounded and almost sympathetic villain. While the hero represents a man politically, socially, and geographically distant from most audience members-- the antagonist offers a relatable and emotionally charged alternative.
The supporting characters include varied people with varying motives and personalities. Shuri(Letitia Wright), T’Challa’s sister, runs Wakanda’s technological backbone and provides moments of levity and genuinity. Nakia(Lupita Nyong’o), a Wakandan spy and special ops force member(as well as T’Challa’s former girlfriend), drives the political and romantic subplots. Other cast members include Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, and Forest Whitaker.
Thirdly, Black Panther is more unique than anything Marvel had released before. For example, the music blended traditional symphonic sounds with African-inspired chanting and American rapping for a fresh soundtrack in a franchise riddled with often mediocre music. The colors scheme and cinematography offer plenty of visual riches to compliment the smart writing.
Unfortunately, the movie does suffer from occasional sub-par special effects. Black Panther’s suit is a little too CGI-doctored up and some moments strain the suspension of disbelief a little tight. However, as Black Panther stood more on its inventiveness and character depth than its action sequences, the issue is easily overlooked.
In the end, Black Panther is what more superhero movies need to be-- original, well-written, and brimming with diverse and real characters. Although it requires some previous Marvel knowledge, Black Panther is perfect for a fun and almost brainy movie experience.
Baskerville, Dawn M. “'Black Panther' Preview: Meet Lupita Nyong'o's Character Nakia.” TheGrio, TheGrio, 7 Feb. 2018, thegrio.com/2018/02/07/black-panther-preview-meet-lupita-nyongos-character-nakia/
“Black Panther.” The Box Office Mojo, The Box Office Mojo, updated 30 Mar. 2018, http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=marvel2017b.htm
Coogler, Ryan, director. Black Panther. Marvel Studios, 2018.
Pulliam-Moore, Charles. “Marvel's 'Black Panther' Isn't Just Another Black Superhero.” NPR, NPR, 16 Nov. 2014, www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2014/11/11/363413255/marvels-black-panther-isnt-just-another-black-superhero.
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Have you seen Black Panther? Do you enjoy comic book movies?