“Wakanda forever!” … is exactly what you’ll be saying after you see the Marvel Cinematic Universe‘s latest, Black Panther. The long-awaited standalone film for this superhero has finally arrived, and it is everything we could have hoped for and more. There is a reason why this flick is now the top Marvel movie for presale tickets. We first met T’Challa in Captain America: Civil War during a hard time in his life, but now he’s finally getting the attention he deserves. Chadwick Boseman made us fall in love with the character back then, and now we’ve got an entire movie with him at the focus, without all the other Avengers cluttering things up.
Going into Black Panther, you should believe the hype. It takes no convincing from Chadwick that he is not just a hero, but the hero. Yet, there’s much more to him than just being the protector of Wakanda. He is also their King. We barely saw Wakanda previously, so this film explores it beautifully. Wakanda, a fictional East African nation, is “hiding in plain sight” but with their technological advances, it comes as no surprise why they are flying under the radar. What makes Wakanda so captivating is that while the technology they have is advanced, it doesn’t look out of the realm of possibility (at least, as far as Hollywood movies go). It doesn’t look like they were trying too hard. The setting is effortlessly cool and enviable right away.
Along with captivating us with the visuals of Wakanda right away, the cast of this film is one of the best ensembles in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. We knew Chadwick Boseman would impress after his work in biopics like portraying Jackie Robinson in 42, James Brown in Get On Up, and Thurgood Marshall in Marshall, but he’s joined by a highly-talented cast who match his incredible performance. The inclusion of world-renowned actors including Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong’o, Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis, and of course, Michael B. Jordan shows that Black Panther pulled out all the stops to get top black actors in the industry for the first mainstream live-action film with a predominantly black cast.
The film tackles many relevant, important cultural issues. T’Challa comes to the realization that, while Wakanda is far ahead in terms of technological advancements, they are still riddled with ancient and outdated traditions. It is when his throne is challenged that he realizes that Wakanda’s isolation and rejection of outsiders is not only morally unjust, but it is hurting his people. Up until this point, most superheroes (in Marvel and DC) have been white men put into positions of power. Black Panther is so refreshing for viewers to have such a diverse cast to look up to, much like Patty Jenkin’s Wonder Woman in 2017. Black Panther could not work without the heart and soul poured into it from director Ryan Coogler, which we can feel even more during the scenes set in Oakland, California. Not only can this film be praised as a piece of incredible black cinema, but it also puts females at the forefront as strong, powerful women who can fight just as well (if not better) as men.
Not to downplay any of the other cast, especially not Letitia Wright, who had such good chemistry playing T’Challa’s genius younger sister, Shuri, but Michael is an absolute standout. It comes as no surprise to see him in the film, as he’d worked with director Ryan Coogler twice before, on Fruitvale Station and Creed, but he really stepped up to the plate for his role as N’Jadaka.
Michael B. Jordan is Killmonger, an ex-Navy SEAL with a childhood grudge. What makes him such a good villain is that he isn’t evil for the sake of being evil. Though, believe us, he’s bad. He has marks all over his body as a symbol of his kills, hence the name Killmonger. Not only is this personal for him, but it is a broader fight. He is tired of the enslavement of his people, and he even says that he’d rather be dead than to be in bondage. Michael makes the fight so compelling, and he’s just so good, you’re almost forced to wonder who you should be rooting for in this fight.
The fight scenes in Black Panther are sleeker than anything we’ve ever seen before in the MCU and beyond. Often in Marvel movies, the fight scenes feel overcrowded, especially as of late. We love the Avengers and all, but with so many heroes and so many different powers and super suits, it gets a little too busy. Director Ryan Coogler does an A+ job of making the fight scenes easy to keep up with but not too slow to captivate audiences and blow their minds. The series of fight scenes on a waterfall, where the King has to take on various challengers, separates itself as possibly the top fight scene in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.
With a cast like this, a director so dedicated to his craft, and a hero that we all have been waiting to see more of, it comes as no surprise why Black Panther is slated for a $170 million box office this weekend. Here’s to hoping it totally crushes that and becomes the biggest Marvel opening weekend! Black Panther deserves every ounce of hype and credit it has gotten thus far.
Don’t forget to stay after the credits. If you think you know who is coming, you might just be surprised.