“Don’t bother, Ms. Romanoff. I’ll kill him myself.” The next time we saw Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa, the Black Panther, after he said this to the Black Widow in Captain America Civil War in response into her urging him to let the authorities bring in the suspected killer of his father, Bucky Barnes, is when he’s trying to kill Bucky Barnes.
As far as introductions into a franchise as fantastical and grandiose as Marvel, you couldn’t ask for anything better or more fitting for one of the greatest characters, in my opinion. T’Challa is the king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda, master of every form of hand to hand combat, a brilliant scientist, and has enhanced physical attributes and senses.
What Creed director, Ryan Coogler has done brilliantly with a character this that unreasonably perfect was ground him in a realty that was very much of the time. T’Challa carries the legendary mantle of Wakanda’s protector, the Black Panther. In these modern times, it’s a suit woven from the indestructible mineral found only in Wakanda that is the source of their incredibly advanced technology, vibranium. And the reason Wakanda has shut itself off from the world for centuries. They’re afraid of people stealing their technology. And, as Get Out’s Daniel Kaluuya’s character, W’Kabi says, “Refuges bring their problems with them”.
The story for Black Panther won’t win any awards, it’s not original by any mean. But what it does, is tell a classic story very well with surprisingly strong characters. Well, strong characters for a Marvel movie. And tell it in a way that engages you with themes of responsibility and identity. Blank Panther harkens back to the days of Iron Man, where it wasn’t the spectacle that you got the most of it, it was moments. In Iron Man’s case they couldn’t afford to do action all the time. With Black Panther, it was out of respect. Respect for an incredible culture and characters that truly shine under Coogler’s established, and incredible, eye for character.
In the world of shared superhero universes, like Coogler’s case, you don’t have the luxury of casting your lead in an origin/standalone movie. But Chadwick Boseman proved that he was more than capable of being T’Challa and Black Panther despite how little he had to do in the film. But with this new film, Boseman proved that he’s more than capable of carrying Marvel with Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, and Robert Downey Jr. out of their contracts. His portrayal of T’Challa is fun to watch. The growth you see in his performance from a warrior struggling with becoming kind and understanding who he is to knowing who he is and fighting for it is every bit as worthy as any one of the great performances Marvel has seen in the past 10 years.
In many ways, Michael B. Jordan’s Eric Killmonger is every bit the same as T’Challa. Only he knows who he is and what he wants. Jordan’s intensity and thoughtfulness against Boseman, especially in the ending of this story, is hands down some of the best storytelling Marvel has seen. And succeeds in turning Killmonger from villain to victim in an utterly brilliant performance from both lead actors. Proving the old adage true, a hero is only as good as his villain.
That being said, Marvel films have been no stranger to great actors. And Black Panther’s cast is no different. The standout being Florence Kasumba’s Ayo. General of the Wakandan army and head of T’Challa’s personal guard of the most elite female fighters. And she is so utterly badass that you would be more afraid of crossing her more so Black Panther. I loved the dynamic between T’Challa and his little sister, Shuri, played by Letitia Wright and his mother the queen, played by the legendary Angela Bassett. Coogler manages an ensemble cast of characters that defines cinematic magic. Andy Serkis gives his best Bond villain as he continues his very first non-CGI role from Avengers Age of Ultron with Ulysses Klaue. He’s over the top bad and enjoying every minute of it.
And I have to credit Martin Freeman for taking what I thought was a throwaway character in Captain America Civil War with CIA agent Everett K. Ross and giving him a nuanced performance that spoke volumes for how little time he was in the film.
Is there anything I didn’t like about this movie? Sure, several action sequences were choppily edited and a little difficult to follow. This being said though, this cast and Coogler’s impressive grasp of character more than makes up for anything negative that I can say about this movie. You just end up wanting more of this movie and this world.
Wakanda may be fictional but the truly beautiful cultures of Africa shine more than Black Panther’s vibranium claws. The Black Panther not only adapt’s the character with a great deal of respect but Coogler created a film that respects an entire country’s cultures. With a storyline very of the moment you never forget, despite his enhancements, that Black Panther is a human being.
The Black Panther is very much worth 5 out of 5 stars. Every accolade you have heard about this movie is true and very much well earned. Go see this movie and I promise you that you will enjoy it.
What Marvel has done with Black Panther is again prove their critics wrong that have been questioning if Marvel can go on without Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, and Robert Downey Jr. All of who have their contracts finished as of the next Avengers movie. With Chadwick Boseman at the head of the next phase of Marvel’s plan, Marvel’s star will be shining bright for a long time to come.